Friday, 9 May 2008

WE NEED MORE FROM OUR MEDIA THAN THE 3 MONKEYS

Am I the only one who is amazed at how our local media and the IOTG in particular have almost been resolute in ignoring evidence of the real threat posed to Thanet's drinking water by The China Gateway. The issue isn't pretty fields; skylarks; poor locals being surrounded by warehouses or even lorries thundering into and out of the place 24 hours a day. It is an issue that affects EVERY RESIDENT IN THANET not just a handful at Manston.

This Friday's comment by IOTG in a side bar (albeit on the front page) about 'Fear over water risk' is a belated recognition that there is a real problem that needs addressing. When the Thanet Plan approved of development at Manston did it have in mind The Gateway Scheme? Did TDC even realise as it marked pencil lines over a patch of countryside that it hid below it Thanet's main aquifer and water catchment area?

I know that the local media have been visiting Thanetstrife and Thanetonline in the past week or so, so they cannot claim ignorance. How can the IOTG allow Ken Wills to be quoted without a challenge as follows:
" his Company (CGP) had investigated environmental issues around the business park."
Yes they did and were warned that the site poses a real and possibly permanent threat to the loss of the aquifer and this detail is in CGPs own application to TDC. He also failed to mention that CGP had considered the costly option of mains sewers but had opted to go for cesspits and septic tanks with Klargester units. He also failed to mention that his agents in the application had received an Environmental Agency letter saying that the proposals CGP had submitted were unacceptable and would be OPPOSED by The EA and that the only acceptable solution was MAINS SEWER CONNECTION.

There was more from Ken Wills:

"Worries about water supply could apply to pretty much any development in Thanet" .

He knows what most of Thanet's residents clearly don't know and that his proposals are for the biggest industrial estate in Thanet and that it just doesn't sit bang in the middle of the main water catchment area for Thanet but actually encroaches into the final protection zone close to our major pumping station at Sparrow Castle. To be allowed to make a misleading statement like that and not be challenged by Thanet's main newspaper does not only do the people of Thanet a disservice but is tantamount to being complicit in obfuscation and extreme stretching of the truth by Mr Wills.

When will the main media inform the people of Thanet about the real issue of development on the land at Manston and the real risk of permanent loss of its drinking water? Soon, I hope.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ken Wills' fatuous comment ignores the fact that we're not talking about a few houses using litres of water to bathe, wash clothes etc. but a massive industrial complex that will use millions of litres of water every day discharging waste into the sewers.

Michael Child said...

The trouble with media is that they tend towards this: how would you feel if it was being built in your backyard attitude. Modern journalistic techniques favour that sort of personalisation its come from the tabloids. I was furious with the BBC and Meridian paying lip service to environmental issues, but doing nothing to help solve them

Ian J said...

Money is the simple answer, We don't pay for items to appear in the paper, therefore We don't matter.
Simple, just like Thanet Jurno's

Q. The difference between a book and a newspaper?

A. A book has got a spine.

Anonymous said...

Nor do we pay for advertising in the press. The local press will never seriously campaign against something like this and risk losing their advertising income from TDC and others.

Michael Child said...

I do think looking at all of the local papers that things are improving and in general the problem is less about conforming to the wishes of advertisers and more about what is perceived as a news story. After all the BBC is funded by the licence fee, and we are faced with a potential environmental catastrophe that both our MP and the environment agency have commented on.

The media in general I would imagine are also still coming to terms with the effect that internet blogs are having on news, prior to the blogs locally the local papers had total control over what news was published, and in the letters what comment was allowed.

Now many of the news stories first appear on the main local blogs and often those stories are incomplete and only become significant as comment and the bloggers research progresses

Anonymous said...

Have any of the people commenting here actually bothered to get in touch with the local papers? I think not. That includes you Michael -why isn't your name in the papers?

So far it's only Amy at Manston and her family and friends who are being media savvy here and getting in touch to put their side of the story.

Come on guys, the papers and local radio are approachable people and rely heavily on you getting in touch either by email or phoning in. To say they aren't interested is incorrect.

Also there is only so much space available and a story has to be summed up in around 400 words or less. Yes, this is a story which will run and run but cut out the insults please or the papers will shun you and write you off as cranks.

Thanet Extra is most approachable and has a rolling news website of its own just launched via kentonline, albeit not perfect yet.

Call the Extra newsroom on 01843 222777 or email thanetextra@thekmgroup.co.uk soonest.

Nick, Whits

Bertie Biggles said...

Nick, I must admit to getting annoyed with IOTG and perhaps 'sounding off' in haste. I am sure we will read a great deal more in due course.

This issue boils down to a single issue that is vital. We have KCC and TDC with an LLP set up and some very close contact, not all business, being maintained by Cllrs with interested parties. This project has been driven by a powerful lobby within TDC and KCC and yet it sits smack bang on and far too close to an important aquifer for Thanet's drinking water. No matter what steps you take to protect it, you only need one idiot pouring something away that they shouldn't and this water source is lost for ever. Not allowing any further development on the catchment area of this aquifer is more important than the 'money' Mr Wills wants to make; the jobs that will not go to Thanet's unemployed; and the fact that KCC purchased additional agricultural land and all concerned marked maps in a Thanet Plan. We had a big patch earmarked for indutrial building at Eurokent; that site should be used.So why is it being looked at for housing/ retail/ entertainment? Because 'gateway' is huge and will do the job BUT ITS ON AN IMPORTANT AQUIFER! Jobs can be created at Eurokent too?

I am aware that Thanetstrife and Thanetonline and much relevant detail and info as Michael and I have been putting up has been looked at by the 'professionals' and have no doubts, people have been contacting press! I am glad that you have put up contact details but could I refer you to all the China Gateway reports below if you have not seen them. One interesting feature at the moment is the wall of silence from Southern Water; your chaps need to pester them as they do not seem to have got active in 'defending' their aquifer.(see post below)

Anonymous said...

There's a large, little used brownfield site this China Park could go on with very little difficulty. And a big plus is it would do something positive for the Thanet environment. It's called Manston Airport.

Bertie Biggles said...

I am afraid it sits on the same aquifer 20.09 and whilst I take your point, there is a current issue involved at KIA to ensure the airport doesn't ruin our drinking water!

Michael Child said...

Nick I do assist various journalists of local papers and magazines as much as I can and although I have good contacts in the other two local papers I think the journalist Chris Denham who used to contact me from the Extra must have moved on.

I am afraid I do tend to tease journalists a bit, working on the basis that they are fairly tough and can take it more than most, and I do believe my last communication with him was when he used an illustration of the wrong hover pad to illustrate an article, so he may have taken umbrage.

I very much encourage the journalists who I know to use my blog as a resource, you may have noticed some resemblance between some of my postings and some of the newspaper articles recently.

I also get a certain amount of copy from journalists, whose publications and broadcasts cover a broader area than Thanet, to check for contemporary and historical accuracy when they write about this area or other issues that I get involved in.

As for why my name doesn’t appear more in the local papers I think this could also be to do with sense of humour, they do after all have certain standards to maintain.

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone,

I have just had an interesting conversation with Ofwat…in the conversion they pointed out to me that Southern Water (SW) is currently in the process of a public consultation [Water Resource Plan (WRP)].

This consultation is basically how they (SW) will address our water needs etc for the next 20 years or so and that this has been instigated by DeFRA. Dave Greens Eastcliff Matters blog has the links.

I am deeply concerned that SW is not correctly addressing the Water Resource Plan for Thanet adequately enough - as well as SW stating that no additional schemes be implemented for the Water Resource Zones in our area?

In layman’s terms the SW public consultation assumes everyone is an expert in water management with lots of glossy pictures which are not required.

According to Ofwat if a developer wants to build SW have to legally supply the water or else!! This is utter madness as we the water payers are paying for the developments? I really do not give a fig that the developers are allowed to do this by SW/planners if they put in the entire infrastructure etc. We will end up paying for this in the long run as there are more of us paying public than developers who do not care for (a) us and (b) the Environment. Should SW be a statutory consultee - one should be asking? This role should be paid for by SW to the EA to be completely impartial?

So lets recap on the China Gateway threats to our ground water as well as Kent International Airport [KIA] as both sit on or adjacent to our Major Aquifer.

1. Thanet’s Water Quality is rated as Poor
2. Nothing in the WRZ or WRP seems to address the above?
3. Lots of nasty chemicals are underground
4. Our water is blended from many sources
5. Southern Water will not release information
6. No additional Schemes are required under the WRZ,s
7. KCC and TDC both have financial interests in the development schemes/local plan.
8. No Master plan yet exists for KIA?
9. The current Local Plan gets thrown out of the window?

The list is endless – so I guess the question is…how is TDC planning going to deal with the above and is TDC responding to the Southern water consultation and can we see it…..pretty please?

Oh one other important item Ofwat are getting back to me regarding SW’s legal obligations in raising the water pressure to fight fires perhaps some pressure from Ofwat onto SW regarding that matter would not go amiss?