We have some breaking news about Oaken Wood and the progress of the public inquiry…
A timetable for the public inquiry into the proposed extension at Hermitage Quarry in Kent had previously been agreed to by Kent County Council, the Woodland Trust, Kent Wildlife Trust and the quarry company, Gallagher Aggregates Ltd with a start date of the 7th of February 2012. On the 29th of September we received, via the Planning Inspectorate, a letter on behalf of Gallaghers requesting that the start of this public inquiry now be deferred. The delay was requested to allow sufficient time for Gallaghers’ ecology surveys to be updated, reported and for the Environmental Statement to be amended and advertised.
While we weren’t sure about the justification for this delay (further survey information will add to the breadth of knowledge about the site, but it is highly unlikely to add any material change to the known facts) we were willing to agree to the request and a deferment has now been granted by the Planning Inspectorate.
October 2012 has been suggested as a possible new date for the inquiry. We are hoping to see further information on the timetable of surveys to be carried out, so we can decide whether we think this is an appropriate date for the inquiry to begin.
We know our supporters are very interested in this, our biggest case of ancient woodland under threat – over 6,600 of you have helped us get this far! – so we’ll be sure to keep you informed with news when we have it. If you objected to the planning application you are likely to get a letter from Kent County Council in the near future updating you on this change.
Christina Byrne, National Case officer – Woods under Threat