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Friday, 23 May 2014


In a letter dated 21st May 2014 from Beth Axtell at the Environment Agency to Angela Watts at KCC relating to condition 12, Drainage, the Agency have delivered the message that they are still not in a position to recommend the discharge of condition 12. 
The reasons given are totally in line with our view that the proposed scheme put forward by Countrystyle is unsustainable and void of 'best practice' in terms of design. 
You will recall that this application lapsed on the 27th March, but KCC have chosen to keep it 'live'. We still believe that KCC are in breach of planning law as previously stated. 
We are of the firm opinion that KCC should tell Countrystyle that 'enough is enough'. All the way through this application Countrystyle have prevaricated and dodged real environmental issues that are a concern to us all. This latest submission from the Environment Agency must surely indicate to KCC that it's time to 'call it a day' for Messrs Countrystyle. 
Our Association will be writing to KCC planning officers, further requesting that Countrystyle be made to reapply for planning permission. This is not only our view but also the views of the Environment Agency and the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE).

Les Barratt, Co-Chairman S&DRA

Friday, 4 April 2014


Recent publicity surrounding Otterpool Quarry has prompted some parishioners to question our actions relating to conditions attached to the Countrystyle approval granted over 3 years ago by Kent County Council. The very same sentiment was echoed by just one of the Planning applications Committee (Councillor Christopher Smith) on 12th March at County Hall, stating that permission had been granted, so why bother about the detail in conditions. Fortunately, the majority of the Planning Applications Committee Members do not take that simplistic, uncaring attitude but have chosen to adopt a more holistic and clear thinking approach that will ensure conditions are strictly met. At this point I will also mention that our Association met with Richard King, Chairman, Mike Clifton and Head of Planning, Sharon Thompson who clearly stated that these conditions are important and robust enough to withstand legal or other challenges. At the time we felt assured that this would be the case. Sadly, our confidence in the KCC planning department has nose dived firmly south. 
The consent period has lapsed. The pre-commencement entrance works, which is now being described as enabling works by Angela Watts, is nowhere near finished, The Landscaping,  Drainage and Contamination conditions have yet to be discharged and yet the application is being kept live by the Planning Officers. 
We firmly believe, that given the above set of circumstances, KCC are in breach of  Section 91 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
Our clear message to our communities is this: We didn't approve of the application being given consent over 3 years ago but there is little that we can do to reverse that decision. Our concern at the present time is that the outstanding conditions are rigorously scrutinised and considered, and where need be, via the Environment Agency. Moreover, for Kent County Council to act within the spirit of those conditions and in accordance with Planning Law.
Finally we would like to take this opportunity to thank all Parishioners, from all Parishes, for their continuing support along with our local media streams.

Les Barratt. Co-Chairman. S&DRA.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Saturday, 29 March 2014


Q: When does an expiry date become an unexpired date.
A: When KCC are involved.

On the 27th March 2014 the planning consent for Countrystyle to build a waster and Digester site at Otterpool Quarry lapsed. Or did it. According to Angela Watts, Senior planning officer at KCC, it's not necessary for the entrance construction (condition 5) to be completed before the expiry date provided that the applicant submits details of the said works prior to the expiry date.
S&DRA's view is that it clearly states in condition 5 that the entrance should be COMPLETED before consideration is given to the main construction works. At present, the entrance has not been completed, the 3 year consent period has lapsed, therefore the applicant needs to reapply for planning permission. Moreover, conditions 12, and 14-17, Drainage and Contamination are no further being discharged than what they were three years ago. 
KCC state that Countrystyle provided written confirmation of their intention to commence enabling works at the site in accordance with the approved access details on March 12th. If that was the case, why wasn't it mentioned during the meeting when committee members would have had the chance to respond. So did Countrystyle suddenly realise after the committee meeting that the entrance should be built before the 27th? What time was the written confirmation received? Why did Countrystyle suddenly start to build the entrance so soon after the meeting? What discussions or negotiations took place between KCC Planning Officers and Countrystyle after 12th March?
The KCC letter dated 28th March 2014 to S&DRA will be posted on our website very shortly.

Les Barratt, Co-Chairman S&DRA.

Sunday, 16 March 2014


After countless telephone calls from concerned residents explaining that works around the entrance are now being carried out with mature trees being cut down in the Otterpool site, we can confirm that under the terms of conditions attached to Countysyle's consent, condition 5 clearly states that the entrance should be COMPLETED before any development commences on site. Whether it can be COMPLETED before 27th March 2014, being the end of the 3 year consent period, is of no concern to us. It is very clearly set out in the conditions that if they are not ALL discharged before the consent period expires, the application will lapse and the applicant will have to re-apply for planning permission. Please see the previous two posting on our website detailing the position with conditions 12 and 14-17.

Les Barratt. Co-Chairman, S&DRA.

Saturday, 15 March 2014


In an email to Angela Watts at KCC dated 14th March 2014 the Environment Agency (EA) made the following comments; 'We are not currently in a position to recommend the discharge conditions 14-17 of planning permission SH/08/124 as we still do not feel confident that all issues at this site have been investigated as far as possible.
To summarise, S&DRA's members expertise extend to Civil engineering, Planning, Drainage and Architecture, but are left wanting in environmental sciences. We therefore commissioned a highly respected, independent Environmental scientist to issue a report on site contamination matters. Duly sent to EA for immediate consideration and mentioned in the aforementioned email we are most grateful for the unbiased and professional assessment review of existing site conditions. It should also be noted that information was gleaned from site workers operating on site in the 1980's. We will be submitting further information to EA to support further investigations. In particular, the unofficial 18 metre (sixty feet) deep pit that was dug to dump a whole raft of 'on site' and 'off site' materials including petrol, diesel, tarmac, bitumen amongst other hazardous materials including vehicles.

Les Barratt. Co-Chairman, S&DRA. 


In a recent email to Angela Watts at KCC dated 12th March 2014, the following comments were made by the Environment Agency (EA): 'We are not currently in a position to recommend the discharge of condition 12 of planning permission SH/08/124'.
To summarise, in recent correspondence to the applicant, information was being sought between the correlation between attenuation lagoons and site groundwater levels. It was noted by EA that the attenuation lagoons could be below groundwater levels and that additional information was required. The S&DRA confirm that this would be the case and in actual fact, given the noted conservative groundwater levels, the lagoons, including hydrobrake's/chambers would be totally under water. It should also be noted that SLR's (Countystyle'e experts/agents) own borehole readings are within 150mm (6 inches) of our own.
On the matter of sustainable drainage, Countrystyle's scheme would be to pump the water from site, under the A20 into a ditch and then into an existing pipe across Farmer Price's field. The EA pointed out that this is not a sustainable drainage system and therefore would not be considered. 
The S&DRA agree with EA's comments and look to be providing further factual information on historic borehole readings.

Les Barratt. Co-Chairman, S&DRA.

Friday, 14 March 2014


The KCC Planning Committee were recently called upon to debate and give approval to the discharging of two of the outstanding conditions which were attached to the planning consent of Countrystyle to build an anaerobic Digester and MRF waste site at Otterpool Quarry. This was unusual in as much as the planning officers already have the power to decide upon such issues given that both of these conditions relate to the Weighbridge and Landscaping. As far as we could see, there was no real issue with the weighbridge, but the Landscaping scheme was an entirely different issue. Taken in isolation, it would be difficult to find fault with the scheme, but lay it over the Surface Water drainage scheme and the problems are glaring.
S&DRA's position has always been to take a holistic approach when viewing drawings and submissions pertaining to the Otterpool site.

Fortunately, the majority of the Planning committee members have also taken this stance after hearing from our speakers, Graham Horner, representing CPRE, Bob Edden, Co chairman of S&DRA and our County Councillor, Susan Carey. A representative from Countrystyle spoke of how the submissions made to KCC were detailed and robust but also noted that the attempt to discharge the conditions had been delayed due to contractual delays in acquiring feedstock from various Councils. This, of course is not a material planning consideration.

After hearing from Mike Clifton, (Planning Officer), the debate was started by Councillor Ian Chittenden who set the theme for the rest of the morning. We were pleased to hear that the comments were well thought through, measured and above all sensible, offering consideration to the Surface Water Drainage scheme which in effect totally conflict with the Landscape scheme.
There was also mention of the Badger setts which are situated on the southern bank of the site. Far from being considered, it would appear that all the setts would be destroyed to make way for the drainage scheme. 

Other Councillors to offer support to the notion that the Landscape scheme be considered alongside 'Drainage' included Mike Baldock, Matthew Balfour, Pam Brivio, Peter Harman, Trever Shonk and last but not least Jim Wedgebury, who was firmly of the opinion that matters left to the last minute are usually rushed through with no real deserved consideration.
After a short break and further debate a proposal was set before the Committee to 'Discharge the Weighbridge condition but to defer the Landscape condition until such time that Surface Water and Ground Contamination submissions are before the committee'. Councillor Chittenden was the last to speak with a question directed to Sharon Thompson (Head of Planning) asking for confirmation that the Landscaping issues will be heard alongside 'drainage' and 'ground contamination'. A very firm 'YES' was the reply. A vote was taken and was carried ten votes to one.
Needless to say we were delighted with the outcome. We await to see the submissions relating to 'drainage' and 'contamination' from statutory consultees, the Environment Agency.

It was good to see Sally Edwards of Lympne Parish Council and Donald Broad, Chairman of Monks Horton Parish Meeting in attendance. Your continued support is always appreciated.

Les Barratt, Co-Chairman, S&DRA. 

Friday, 7 March 2014


The KCC Planning committee will be meeting to discuss the remaining conditions next Wednesday, 12th March at County Hall, Maidstone. The meeting starts at 10am. All are invited to attend.. Please ensure leaving good time for parking. The Residents Association and CPRE will be speaking. As of yet, Sellindge Parish Council have not made arrangements to speak. See you all there.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


The 61 metre wind turbine that was rejected by the development Control committee at Shepway District Council and subsequently appealed has now been approved the inspectorate. For those of you are not familiar with the application, the applicant is Windberry Operations. The turbine will be erected on Mr. Richard Price's land. More details will follow very soon. For those residents wishing to comment on this approval please email:

Tuesday, 18 February 2014



To briefly recap; Planning permission was granted to ‘Countrystyle’ on the 28th March 2011 to develop the quarry site opposite the Airport cafĂ© by KCC. Various conditions were attached to the consent, not only by statutory consultee’s but also by the Sellindge & District Residents Association.
As the consent only lasts for three years, Countrystyle has only recently been trying to discharge some of those conditions in order to commence building work at the site. From what we have seen from Countrystyle’s documentation, detail and clarity have been woefully lacking.

Our Association has been invited by KCC to comment on the information received of which we are in the process of doing.

The drainage issues surrounding this application have always been ambiguous to say the least with scant regard for our environment.
As we all know, the area is not served by any form of sewer/foul drainage system.
The original scheme to discharge site water ‘run-off’ was to discharge into the nearby highway drainage, exiting in the garden at Barrow Hill Farm cottages. Needless to say, consultee’s took a dim view of this scheme and asked Countrystyle to reconsider the scheme.

In a letter dated 3rd February, 2014 from farmer, Richard Price to Mr. T. Heathcote, owner of Countrystyle, an agreement has been entered into to drain the surface water from the waste/digester site through a drainage pipe installed over Mr. Price’s land, unimpeded to the river Stour. This letter can be viewed on the KCC website.

Our Associaton’s view of this scheme is one of  dismay to say the least. There are many other technical issues over the site drainage scheme which has been totally ignored. We will be responding accordingly.

Site contamination is another very serious issue that we are now tackling. Thanks to various local people, we discovered that the site was unofficially used as a dumping ground; not just for rubble but from what we can gather, for everything one could imagine, even a car.
A localised site investigation has been carried out by agents of Countrystyle, but have failed to assess major areas of the site, including the ‘dump’ where we believe contamination to be a very serious problem. Once again, our Association team is following up to consultee’s with our own observations and comments.

A meeting/hearing has been scheduled for the 12th March at County Hall, Maidstone for the full committee to debate the situation concerning the conditions. This hearing has been called for by KCC. For those of us that travelled to Maidstone three years ago, this hearing is along similar lines where the public are allowed to listen to the debate. Interest bodies will be allowed 3 minutes to give their own presentations including ourselves. The officer’s report and agenda won’t be made available until five days before the hearing. For those of you wishing to attend, please keep in touch for further details. It would be helpful if you emailed us on sellindgeresidents to register your interest. Either way, details will be given on our website.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Fwd: OTTERPOOL QUARRY. 16th February 2014.

 OTTERPOOL QUARRY. 16th February 2014.

A statement will follow in the very near future to update residents on the position of the the Applicant, Countrystyle relating to the discharging of conditions before their deadline date of 28th March, being the 3 year period of consent.


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