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.