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.)