Decisions, decisions…..

Oaken-WoodFinally, we reach the end of a long and winding process. It has taken 13 witnesses, two barristers, 11 third party interest groups and individuals, and more boxes of paper than any one cares to imagine to debate the need for ragstone versus the environmental loss of irreplaceable ancient woodland. This fundamental issue in the planning application – that could result in the loss of 31 hectares of ancient woodland – remains still alive and very much at the heart of the inquiry as it draws to a close.Pile of paperwork

The irony that we are fighting to save woodland amid a flurry of so much paperwork is not lost on us, but we are deep into the system and this is what we must do to take our campaign through to the end.

The Planning Inspector has been patient and thorough for all parties concerned. So thorough that he has taken over 3 bic-biro’s worth of notes (we know this  is a fact as he put them in our bin), carried out 3 day’s worth of site visits and experienced a quarry blasting. This is on top of hearing all of the witnesses statements and barrister’s cross examinations on both sides.

Kent Wildlife Trust worked phenomenally hard to deliver their own case and to add weight to ours through their ecological argument. For their support, local knowledge and excellent ecological information we are very grateful.

Kent County Council also explained their decision-making process and reasoning behind why they initially passed the application through.

The local group Save Oaken Wood also took their opportunity to be a valuable part in this decision making process. This, alongside local resident’s detailed evidence painted a picture of life living by a quarry for the Inspector.

The process now moves into the Inspector producing a report that will give direction for the final decision to be taken by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP. As I write we are still waiting for a timetable but it would be no surprise if this takes 4 to 6 months.

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to all who have sent messages of support and donations to help make this happen. Without you we could never have got this far.

As soon as we have a result, we will blog to let everyone know.

Oaken Wood

Oaken Wood – what does the future hold?


LATEST UPDATE: Estimated report date from the Planning Inspector – 22nd March 2013.

About Nikki Williams

Head of Campaigning for the Woodland Trust
This entry was posted in Campaigning, Climate Change, Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS), Woods Under Threat, WoodWatch and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Decisions, decisions…..

  1. Pingback: The future of England’s forests – a new chapter | Woodland Matters

  2. Tony says:

    What a waste of money. Did the campaigners recommend an alternative site? Seems a major case of Nimbyism.

    • Redshark1 says:

      This post seems a major case of trolling. Its important that local people value their environment and are able to register this through our democratic processes. In fact our democracy would improve greatly if we all got more interested and involved generally. However, it will be a waste of money if local people’s views do not count at the end of the day because decisions are taken remotely and based on other criteria. For example, my local nature area was developed because the local authority wanted the money and pressure was put on the local politician to go against local feeling with deselection threatened. Sadly, the number of protestors did not exceed the current majority of votes either so the politician remained whilst the woodland was bulldozed.

  3. Richard Pelling says:

    How can anyone countenance quarrying with its regular explosions right opposite a major hospital and a residential area, Barming? Never mind the further encroachment on “The Garden of England” and its beautiful and historic woodland, a rapidly diminishing resource, TREES, that breathe out the very oxygen we breathe and absorb CO2

    • Nikki Williams says:

      The local residents really did paint that picture too Richard. Its heartening to know so many peple like you appreciate and value the simplicity and beauty of local woods like Oaken.

  4. Chris Major says:

    Wishing you all the best,
    Whatever the outcome, the world is better place because there are people willing to stand up for what cannot defend itself!
    Thank you for trying to preserve such a naturally beautiful place!

    • Nikki Williams says:

      What a fantastic point you make – this wood really is appreciated by the residents and they can see its value. Thanks for your best wishes 🙂

  5. Alex Jones says:

    Good luck to all the campaigners. I hope you get the result you wish for.

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