Dear Mr. Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government
I would like to draw your attention to the recent decision by Kent County Council to grant planning permission for the above application. This application should now have been referred to you as a departure application.
As well as being contrary to the Kent Minerals Local Plan it conflicts with national planning guidance and carries an outstanding objection from Natural England; as such I urge you to call it in for your expert consideration.
If permitted, the proposed development would result in the loss of 33 hectares of Oaken Wood.
Oaken Wood is ancient woodland and also designated as a local wildlife site due to its ecological value. As Ancient Woodland it has been wooded since at least 1600 and its unique ecology has taken centuries, even millennia to evolve. It is one of the UKs richest habitats for wildlife and should be a treasured part of our heritage.
This application is in contravention of the following national planning polices:
Planning Policy Statement 9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation states 'Ancient woodland is a valuable biodiversity resource both for its diversity of species and for its longevity as woodland. Once lost it cannot be recreated. Local planning authorities should identify any areas of ancient woodland in their areas that do not have statutory protection (e.g. as an SSSI). They should not grant planning permission for any developments that would result in its loss or deterioration.'
Minerals Planning Policy Statement 1 states 'do not permit mineral proposals that would result in the loss or deterioration of ancient woodland, not otherwise statutorily protected, unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location outweigh the loss of the woodland habitat'.
In addition to this I do not believe that the need for this quarry has been demonstrated. Expert, independent analysis has indicated that Kent County can meet their aggregates production target from extant planning permissions. There is no necessity for the application to be approved prior to consideration of the Kent County Council Minerals and Waste Core Strategy; indeed permission would prejudice the range of options open to the County Council in the consideration of future policy.
This application is contrary to the development plan and has raised nationally important issues that should be considered by yourself rather than at a local level. For these reasons I feel it of vital importance that you call in this application for detailed consideration.