News

The decision

On Friday, 24 January, Kent County Council heard the application for a quarry at Dungeness during its Planning Applications Committee meeting—an application opposed by the local councils of Lydd and the Cinque Port Town of New Romney and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). During this meeting we heard that several thousand representations (including your letters of objection and petition signatures) were submitted to Kent County Council opposing the quarry, while only 16 letters of support were received.

We heard many impassioned speeches during the meeting from residents and friends of Dungeness, who are concerned at the futility of the proposed flood defences (for which the shingle from the Dungeness Nature Reserve is intended to be used) and the environmental impact that the works will have on an area directly protected by several of the highest conservation designations in Europe.

We heard Councillors express their frustration that the alternative options available to the applicants have been dismissed so quickly (and in such a "blasé" fashion) and that the application is just a means of avoidance for the applicants "to do a proper job" defending residents of the Marsh from the risk of flooding. Other Councillors noted that, if the application was approved, it would be granting the Environment Agency "twelve more years" to drag its heels on the issue of proper flood protection for residents; that it was important for the Council to start listening to the will of the public on these matters (noting that thousands of objections were received against only a handful of letters of support); that the Council hadn't put sufficient emphasis on considering the environmental and social impacts of the quarry; and that the applicants were entirely avoiding the issue of long-term solutions. However, despite all these voices and the overwhelming public opposition to the quarry, thirteen (of eighteen) members of the Planning Applications Committee ultimately voted the proposal through.

We are deeply upset by the Council's decision and question why they didn't use this opportunity to secure commitment from the applicants to address the long-term flood defence requirements of the Marshes. They may be ready to give up the fight on behalf of their constituents, but we aren't. We will be in touch again soon to outline "where next" with our fight, and in the meantime would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of you who have added your voice to our campaign and have helped us to be heard—thank you.

Twenty-four hours to go

Tomorrow morning, 24 January, the Kent County Council Planning Applications Committee will vote on EDF Energy and the EA's application to excavate shingle from the internationally protected Dungeness Nature Reserve.

Despite many thousands of letters of objection and signatures on petitions opposing the scheme, Kent County Council's planning officers have, regrettably, recommended the scheme for approval. In their report the officers justify the quarry by repeating many of the flawed and misleading statements that the applicants made throughout the applications process—including that there are no health and safety concerns with the scheme because (during the proposed months of operation, from October to March inclusive) the 30 tonne Moxy trucks that would use the same single-lane roads and pathways as pedestrians aren't expected to encounter tourists and visitors. (The applicants mistakenly presume tourists don't come to our spectacular nature reserve in winter.) Curiously, in the same report, the officers include a statement from The Dungeness Angling Association (DAA) who state that "tens of thousands of beach anglers descend on Dungeness beach each winter". The RSPB also notes that this period is a busy time of the year for the Dungeness Reserve, as many birds (some exceptionally rare) overwinter in the area in those months.

Dungeness is internationally important for its physiography, flora and fauna. Whether standing on its vast stone beaches surrounded by intense light and bright blue skies, or walking in the low coastal mist that makes the sky and the stones appear completely grey, the experience is always exhilarating and breath-taking, and we have strong visitor numbers all year round, as this video shows.

The twenty-two visitors in this clip pay virtually no attention to the car that's passing them. If it was a 30 tonne Moxy truck sharing the road with them instead then this could prove extremely dangerous. (This was filmed on a Wednesday in mid-October, during the proposed annual six-month quarrying window, when the applicants claim Dungeness doesn't get visitors. We are unsure who the group is, however, it is one of the many that visit during the winter months.)

Thank you to everyone who has helped us by adding their voice to our campaign. Despite the officers' report, we are still very confident that the elected Committee Members voting on this matter will see sense and will refuse the application. More updates to follow.

(Please note that the Planning Applications Committee meeting is a public meeting, to be held at 10.00 am on Friday, 24 January 2014, at the Council Chamber, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone, ME14 1XQ. Members of the public are welcome to attend.)

EDF Energy and the EA submitted more documents to Kent County Council earlier this month, attempting to push forward their unpopular plans to excavate shingle from the Dungeness Nature Reserve. It's clear from this information that the applicants haven't changed their plans to excavate shingle from this fragile Natura 2000 site, which is protected by the Habitats Regulations and the Authority's own planning policies. More alarmingly, the applicants conceded at a recent public meeting that the twelve-year term of their planning application could be insufficient, and they may want to extend the operational life of the quarry beyond this!

Dungeness is the world's largest shingle structure and is the most diverse and extensive stable vegetated shingle in Europe. Excavating shingle from Dungeness would damage this internationally important and environmentally diverse habitat for generations to come. Both Lydd Town Council and New Romney Town Council have twice opposed the application for a quarry at Dungeness due to the fact that it is flawed [1]—and, with some 70 lorry movements expected across the Dungeness nature reserve each day when the quarry is operational, our local MP (Mr Damian Collins) has stated that we are "right to be concerned about the number of proposed vehicular movements".

Permitting a quarry in this special environment—which is heavily protected by national and international nature conservation designations—would rob Kent of one of the jewels in its crown and set an extremely worrying precedent for other special and supposedly protected areas in Britain. We need your help making this clear to the Authority charged with assessing the application: please send a message to Kent County Council objecting to the new information and ask them to reject the proposal to excavate shingle from Dungeness.

[1] From the Meeting of the Planning and Environment Committee held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, New Romney on Wednesday, 25 September. Minutes available online at http://tinyurl.com/oebwql4

In case you missed it, the new information is available to view online - just search for the application number "KCC/SH/0381/2011" on Kent County Council's website at http://tinyurl.com/kentplanning and click on the "Documents" tab. The new information has a filing date of November 2013.

dungeness-winter.jpg

Update on the quarry

Earlier this month, EDF Energy and the EA submitted several new documents to Kent County Council, attempting to push forward their unpopular plans to excavate shingle from the Dungeness Nature Reserve.

Despite many more pages of information, the applicants haven't actually changed their plan in any material way... They still intend to operate heavy machinery and to excavate shingle from a beautiful open section of the Kent coastline—and their plans now clash with a Coastal Access Path that Natural England is developing to join Camber to Folkestone to provide many more miles of coastline for us to enjoy.

The location of the proposed quarry in Dungeness is within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC)—the unique coastal processes that occur where the quarry would be located are protected. It would set a very worrying precedent if private businesses and corporations (such as EDF Energy) are permitted to take material from such a heavily protected conservation area and to disturb such a valuable natural amenity that's enjoyed by the public all year around.

The new information does not materially change the application and it must therefore fall at the same hurdles. We need your help making this clear to the Authority charged with assessing the application: please send a message to Kent County Council objecting to the new information and ask them to reject the proposal to excavate shingle from Dungeness.

The new documents are available to view online—just search for the application number KCC/SH/0381/2011 on Kent County Council's website and click on the "Documents" tab. The new information has filing dates spanning May and June 2013.

The Sanctuary - Art Project

sanctuary-art-project-thumb.jpg

A great reason to visit Dungeness this weekend (as if you needed one!)...

The "Good Times (Invented and remembered - landscapes and homescapes)" Dungeness popup exhibition is open in the Sanctuary on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th May from midday until 7 pm, featuring recent work by Katja Angeli, Sophie Bedingham Smith, Gary Colclough, Keith Collins, Maisie Belle Dolen, Peter Fillingham, Yvanna Greene, Ted Haddon, Gunther Herbst, Brian Johnson, Peter Marlow, Nerys Mathias, Martin Parr, Sean Perkins, Shane Record, Clunie Reid, Sandra Von Riekhoff, Jamie Robinson, Kate Terry, Oli Timmins and Jason Wallis-Johnson.

(The Sanctuary—Dungeness Road, Kent, TN29 9ND—was originally a disguised pumping station for Operation PLUTO—Pipe Line Under The Ocean—the system of getting fuel across the channel in the aftermath of the Normandy invasions.)

View the flyer and invitation. Hope to see you there!

Extraction rate

rates-of-deposit-and-extraction.png

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the flaws in EDF Energy and the EA's proposal to excavate shingle from Dungeness. They intend to take up to 500 cubic metres of shingle from Dungeness point each day that they're working the beach... That's much (much!) more than is deposited at the beach each day! (Approximately 383 cubic metres of shingle moves toward the point at Dungeness each day—significantly less than the 500 cubic metres EDF Energy and the EA will be removing—which means they will need to dig into the protected and emerging shingle ridges, tearing up the underlying beach in order to take the intended amount.)

The internationally designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC) at Dungeness relies on natural coastal processes to maintain it in favourable condition. Newly accreted shingle forms ridges on the foreshore which are vegetated by the seeds of annual plants that are washed ashore. Plant species then colonise these ridges, forming the early stages of the Perennial Vegetation of Stony Banks. This process is what makes Dungeness a remarkable place—ecologically, as well as to visit and enjoy.

Vegetated shingle is a globally rare and threatened habitat, which is why the shingle cuspate of Dungeness holds the highest UK and European conservation designations. If the planning application submitted by EDF Energy and the EA is approved then their excavation operations will interfere with the very features and natural processes that are (supposed to be) protected by law, damaging both the environment and the fragile ecology of Dungeness.

EDF Energy and the EA will be working weekdays for 24 weeks each year, between October and March. (They are also seeking permission to work weekends in exceptional circumstances, although these circumstances have not been defined.) Their activities will inhibit the gradual depositing and accretion of shingle at the foreshore—the very process that forms the protected vegetated ridges—causing long-lasting deformation of the shoreline. It's worth noting that not all 383 cubic metres of shingle illustrated will settle at Dungeness point—some will continue moving around the coast (as well as into the English channel), meaning the difference between the daily rate of accretion and daily rate of extraction may actually be much greater than shown in the image above.

Update on the quarry

Earlier this month EDF Energy and the EA submitted a document to Kent County Council, attempting to push forward their unpopular plans to excavate shingle from the Dungeness Nature Reserve. Their document was presented as a "significant amendment" to their planning application, "building on feedback obtained from public meetings"... Oh, really?

Make no mistake—nothing has changed in their plans whatsoever... However, the applicants have invented some new (and bogus) excuses to justify their plans, including claims that the local fishermen will struggle to launch their boats if the EA and EDF Energy aren't permitted to take shingle from Dungeness! (The fishermen concerned have confirmed that this claim is absurd.)

There are numerous factual inaccuracies and errors throughout the Summary Document, which once again draws into question the applicants' integrity and competency. For example, the applicants imply in their report that the beach in front of the power station is designated within the SAC and the SSSI, etc., when it isn't—and it's quite apparent that the applicants have not adequately or fairly assessed the alternatives available to them... There are once again errors in their calculations (which they use to rule out other options) and it appears that the applicants have dismissed the suggestions and advice of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (who object to the quarry) without actually having investigated the feasibility of the RSPB's suggestions with the parties concerned.

The location of the proposed quarry is in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Protection Area (SPA), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and is a proposed Ramsar site—thus it is has been afforded some of the highest UK and European conservation designations. As even the applicants note on page 8 of their Summary Document: "Dungeness is a unique and special area, valued not only by the people who live there but by visitors from around the world. It is the only desert in the UK and is cherished for its distinctive habitats and feeling of remoteness. It is like no-where else."

The revised application is in no way materially different from the original application and must therefore fall at the same hurdles. We need your help making this clear to the Authority charged with assessing the application: please send a message to Kent County Council objecting to the Summary Document and ask them to reject the proposal to excavate shingle from Dungeness.

The Summary Document is available to view online—just search for the application number KCC/SH/0381/2011 on Kent County Council's website and click on the "Documents" tab. The new information has a filing date of 16 January 2013.

Dungeness Springwatch

Richard Taylor-Jones's beautiful film on the hidden wildlife wonders of the Dungeness shingle headland, as broadcast on BBC Springwatch 2012 tonight.

Check out these exquisite stills from Richard Taylor-Jones's work:

dungeness-springwatch-shingle.jpg dungeness-springwatch-caterpillar.jpg dungeness-springwatch-ears.jpg dungeness-springwatch-birds.jpg dungeness-springwatch-lights.jpg

Watch tonight's complete Springwatch episode on BBC iPlayer.

Cost assessment not undertaken

New information was recently released by the applicants which shows they're still not taking our concerns seriously, that the impacts of their scheme may be worse than we first thought — and (despite statements to the contrary in their planning submission) they haven't actually assessed the cost of their proposal.

Five days of memories: Community

It's Friday (!) and it's the last of our Five Days of Memories in Dungeness...

Many of the magnificent photographs of Dungeness shared with us for this series show something of the families that have lived here over the years and the community they built, and this remains the focus of today's images. The faces in these photos may not be familiar to all, though some of the landmarks featured will be immediately recognisable - including one of our local pubs!

As before, if you can help us fill in any of the gaps, we'd appreciate it if you'd drop us a line.

5D5M-estate-02.jpg

Image 23

5D5M-estate-03.jpg

Image 24

5D5M-estate-04.jpg

Image 25

5D5M-estate-07.jpg

Image 26

5D5M-estate-05.jpg

Image 27

5D5M-estate-06.jpg

Image 28

5D5M-estate-01.jpg

Image 29

5D5M-estate-08.jpg

Image 30

We hope you've enjoyed the numerous memories and events we've been able to share in the 30 photos we've posted over the past five days. In case you missed any of them, here are the links to the other memories of Dungeness posted as a part of this series:

(Thank you to all concerned for sharing these photographs with us!)

1 2 3  

Archives

Please help prevent Dungeness from becoming a quarry
An application has been submitted to Kent County Council seeking permission to excavate shingle from this precious corner of the coast for use in flood defences that the Environment Agency has said will provide only a low standard of protection against flooding and could lead to failure of the defences.

If you haven't done so already please add your voice to our campaign against the application. If you've already done so then thank you — please consider telling your friends and family about our campaign too.