As part of the public inquiry into the A21 widening scheme, we are giving evidence on behalf of the ancient woodland at risk, and also cross-examining the Highways Agency’s witnesses.
Our Richard is in Kent for the Inquiry – over to you Richard for the first day’s update:
“Today (Tuesday 14th May) I attended the opening day of the A21 Public Inquiry, feeling buoyed up by the comments to my first blog and the lyrics of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi.
The proposed scheme would entail the loss of 9 ha of ancient woodland, to which we object in principle. Our aim is to get proper recognition of the loss of ancient woodland, and remind the Inspector this cannot be addressed by “mitigation”, or the low level of compensation suggested.
Media interest has been high, with my colleague Oliver featuring in last week’s local coverage by BBC and ITV, and I was interviewed twice as I walked into the venue for the Inquiry.
Today the Highways Agency presented evidence on the overview of the scheme, and engineering issues. The overview included recording the number of objections, and this noted the surge of emails from WT supporters, with 831 new objections registered by this morning! These will add real weight to the evidence that I’ll be presenting on Friday 24th May.
After cross examining today, I will be back in action again this Friday (17th), tackling the ecological and planning evidence submitted by the Highways Agency, and of course posting an update in Woodland Matters!
Richard Barnes, Senior Conservation Adviser
Follow the Inquiry’s progress throughout the next few days.