Maidstone Quarry Expansion Into Ancient Wooldland Scheme

mark mark at
Wed May 11 14:26:53 BST 2011



More capitalist abuse of the word 'sustainable'
mitage_quarry.html )


A decision to allow a quarry scheme that will destroy ancient woodland "set
a dangerous precedent" for England's woods, conservationists claimed today. 


The Woodland Trust criticised Kent County Council's decision to grant
planning permission for a proposal to extend a quarry in Oaken Wood, west of


The Trust said the scheme would destroy 33 hectares, or around 30 football
pitches, of ancient woodland, with further impacts on the surrounding woods
and the wildlife they support. 


The charity said it would be a "sad indictment" on the Government's promises
to look after woodlands - made earlier this year after it was forced into a
U-turn on selling off public forests - if it did not call in the project to
examine it. 


According to the Woodland Trust, the application goes against Government
planning policy which favours preserving ancient woodland unless there is a
clear need for development - which the charity said did not exist in this
case as the quarry extension departs from the county's mineral extraction
plan and is not needed to meet demand. 


The Trust is also warning that what protection exists for ancient woodland,
a habitat rich in wildlife, is under threat from the proposed National
Planning Policy Framework reforms which could see the policy on ancient
woodlands disappear. 


Nikki Williams, head of campaigns at the Woodland Trust, said: "Kent County
Council has set a dangerous precedent here and the Government needs to
challenge it before the rot spreads elsewhere. 


"The decision on Oaken Wood has been made on this Government's watch, so it
would be a sad indictment of its promises earlier this year to strengthen
protection for ancient woodland and to listen to the vast numbers of people
who rallied behind the retention of a public forest estate, if the
Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) didn't call this case
in and question what is going on."


The Woodland Trust's statement:-


No amount of restoration or replanting will make up for the loss of ancient


Ancient woodland sprang up naturally, on undisturbed soils after the last
Ice Age. It provides a uniquely stable and vital home to more wildlife than
any other habitat. The loss of 33 hectares of ancient woodland is
unacceptable for this reason and also when so little of this habitat remains


There is a strong presumption against development on ancient woodland.
Guidance from central government (Planning Policy Statement 9 - PPS9)


'Ancient woodland is a valuable biodiversity resource both for the 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...'


An independent analysis has concluded that there is no need for the quarry
extension at this point in time. 


There are alternative sites that fulfil the quota. See 'Further detail on

Some of the main impacts from quarrying on ancient woodland:


Oaken Wood is ancient woodland. Located west of Maidstone the wood is
broadleaf predominately made up of sweet chestnut coppice. The wood is
designated as a Local Wildlife Site and is considered to be of county
importance due to both its size and the fact that it is part of a wider
network of ancient woodland. Bats and dormice, which are European protected
species, are present within the wood and would be severely impacted on by
the proposals through loss of habitat.


Indirect effects on the remaining woodland:


In addition to direct woodland loss, there will be huge indirect impacts on
the remaining habitat if the extension is to go ahead. An independent report
commissioned by the Woodland Trust has indicated that there are a number of
negative impacts on woodland from adjoining land use. 



Quarrying is noisy (e.g. blasting, processing, warning sirens) and involves
other physical activity likely to cause disturbance in nearby woodland (e.g.
large-scale movement of substrate, dust, vehicles). 

Dust and chemical drift produced by quarrying and mineral extraction can
affect woodland several miles downwind. 

The extension will result in the isolation of the woodland from other
habitats which stops species moving between different types of habitat and
also cause them to avoid the woodland near the quarry.


Ancient woodland is irreplaceable, it is impossible to compensate for its


The applicant has suggested that there will be a benefit for wildlife from
the proposals, through the management of the remaining woodland and the
creation of new habitats, including native woodland, scrub, meadow and pond.


We disagree.  


Ancient woodland is irreplaceable. Ancient woodland is the most important
wildlife habitat in the UK for the number of species of conservation concern
that are supported, as well as the thousands of everyday species which
complete the ecosystem. To attempt to replace such a valuable, continuous
habitat with the creation of a number of small and immature habitats can
only result in major long-term biodiversity loss.

Further detail on 'need':


The applicant has been adamant that the extension is necessary to meet the
demand for ragstone in the local area. We appointed an independent planning
consultant to analyse the need for an extension of the quarry, in relation
to mineral consents (e.g. other quarries with planning permission to extract
aggregates) that are already in place in Kent. The independent consultant
looked at:

The amount of stone needed


Regional policy sets out the amount of minerals required, setting annual
targets. This is to ensure there is enough stone being extracted to meet
demand. Through existing quarries, including the current Hermitage Quarry,
Kent County is able to meet the current set extraction target.

The alternative sites


There are opportunities for the quarrying of building stone on a smaller
scale, which would not have the noise and traffic impacts of larger
aggregate plants. It would be possible to utilise some of the outcrops for
the extraction of building stone on a smaller scale than that considered by
the applicant without detriment to nearby settlements and with minimal
impact upon the road system.


The applicant has analysed alternative sites and come to the conclusion that
none are suitable. Much of this conclusion seems to be based on the desire
to have a large-scale, and therefore more economically viable, quarrying


Some links:-










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