Friday, 11 July 2008


You are looking at a hand drawn copy of a drawing sitting in TDC Planning Dept File OLTH/95/0838. A reasearch assistant of mine spent the morning in Cecil Square digging around this file. After looking at his detailed notes, I realise how sensible our forbears were back in the good old 90s!
Let me explain.

The background story is that Wiggins (owners of Kent International Business Park) felt 110 acres was not enough to put in infrastructure for development and those nice people, who will be familiar to regular readers, the Robertson Clan, at Alland Grange were happy to sell high quality agricultural land to be joined to KIBP. OLTH/95/0838 is all about the 65 acres to become development land. An urgent need for development land for jobs was identified in 1995!

MAFF were not entirely happy about this. "Land is Grade 2 wuith some 3a. Grades 1, 2, 3a are the best and most versatile agricultural land"(i.e a wide variety of food crops can be grown on it productively.) In their letter of 1 Dec 1995 they continued " The MAFF concern is the open nature of the site and (I love this guys perception) the likelihood of further loss of high quality land should the development go ahead."

MAFF were eventually persuaded by TDC not to object to loss of this agricultural land on the basis (don't laugh here) that it received an assurance that any further proposals FOR EXTENDING THE DEVELOPMENT WOULD BE FIRMY RESISTED! In fact Mr Herron, our TDC Planning Chief at the time, assured MAFF with these words "....the land we now have will be sufficient to provide for economic regeneration of the area".

Before I get onto water and sewage, you might like to be aware of MAFF policy about good agricultural land. Here's what they said in 1995 and how prescient these words are with world food shortages today and ever increasing food prices; " the best and most versatile agricultural land is a NATIONAL RESOURCE FOR THE FUTURE and that considerable weight should be given to the protection of such land because of its special importance". Clearly devloper friendly TDC and some of our Councillors don't see it that way as CGP thought it was clearly ok to buy another 100+ acres of a national resource to put sheds on from of course Mr Struan Robertson.

Now for water and sewage! The National Rivers Authority (NRA) a predecessor for the EA advised TDC to construct lagoons ( balancing ponds) down pipe from oil/hydrocarbon interceptors that ALL hardstanding areas were to drain into and that mains sewerage was needed for foul sewerage. For HGV parking areas no less than 3 interceptors were advised. TDC took this on board and no less than 6 CONDITIONS were imposed regarding safe drainage and prevention of contamination of the aquifer. So serious was this issue that A DEED OF PLANNING OBLIGATION was drawn up and signed by TDC, KIBP and the Robertsons on the 4th Sep 1996. So concerned was the NRA that it advised TDC that the most hazardous units which presumably included the busiest HGV areas for parking, "be situated in the southern section of the site furthest away from the abstraction borehole". (Sparrow Castle Pumping Station!)

Now for site screening to ameliorate the impact on open Chalk Plateau etc. TDC Planning recommended to its Planning Committee as follows: "A CRUCIAL issue is the impact of the schemeupon the local and wider area in visual terms and therefore the quality of screening and landscaping of the site assumes considerable importance. I consider that the previously required 30m deep planting belt to the N and W boundaries of the original business park should be extended to the N, W and E boundaries of the business park extension." (i.e the exterior boundaries of the new 65 acres of agricultural land sold by the Robertsons).

SO WHAT?, you might ask. (I have been accused by some readers by e-mail of posting too long posts) The point is this.

CGP came and talked to TDC before buying up agricultural land for Phases 2 and 3 presumably on the 'nod' that all would be well. (No concerns here about a NATIONAL RESOURCE!). CGP then submitted a Plan for Phase 1 with the clear intention of following up behind with the creeping extension of KIBP that TDC had reassured MAFF would not happen. CGPs plans completely ignored many of the conditions on sewage, water and screening planting that TDC had set in granting use for development in 1996 . Can anyone see in F/TH/08/0400 any compliance with these important Conditions? I can't. CGP even go one stage further and put the most 'hazardous' set up, the largest and most intrusive warehouses (X types) for the 'redistribution' operation' ( area of most HGVs pulling up and parking) CLOSEST to the aquifer and Sparrow Castle!

Why was their planning application not sent back by TDC Planning to CGP with a copy of file OLTH/95/0838 with a note saying "READ THIS AND THEN RESUBMIT"? Why are TDC even considering this nonsense from CGP? Maybe TDC wishes to forget that it signed a DEED in 1996 stating " not to occupy the 65 acres (Robertson's farmland) until requisition of a new sewer for the discharge of foul water between the land and Minster Wastewater Treatment Works".

The awfulness of this issue is brought into stark contrast with all the conditions met by the two Cummins' plants, the biggest development on the site so far. Balancing ponds / storm water capacity/ hardstanding all through oil interceptors before getting there; mains sewage; 30m deep planted screening belts. You name it, they have done it!

What's changed? Well I know water supplies are now a major concern to us in The South East and that world food shortages have caused food riots around the world. Has TDC noticed, as it becomes less ,not more, concerned with issues of agricultural land and Thanet's water?


Anonymous said...

Same old boring nonsense.
Boring! Boring! Boring Bertie!

Bertie Biggles said...

I am not out to entertain you 21.51, but to open your eyes to what is going on under your nose. If you fail to see the incongruity here in the planning process, then I cannot help you. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Difference between then and now is that we have councillors who pursue schemes without proper research and reading of the papers etc - too lazy or ignorant to do so not sure which? Maybe dont listen to their officers, or maybe officers arent as forceful as Herron in his day - i suspect that is nearer the truth, he used to temper councillors' over enthusiasm by being nearer reality? all they want to do is get the credit for bringing big schemes to Thanet, only like in the case of the Spanish scheme them to possibly go again.
Look to small local Fry mates!
Dont blame Berts for being boring, reading council files are boring and time consuming and hard to produce an exciting item from!

Michael Child said...

I am afraid ensuring a safe and sustainable water supply for the future isn’t very exciting, nor are considerations about how the Chinese dispose of their sewage.

There was one question that I asked the EA and TDC, the answer to which could have been exiting, which is; if a lorry driver flushes out a tanker that has contained poison, into the lorry parks drain, not realising that it leads unprocessed to our drinking water reservoir, how many people do they estimate would be killed if the poison gets into our tap water undetected?

Haven’t had an answer to that one yet, people have winced but no one has said it couldn’t happen, at the moment if all the fish in the balancing pond suddenly die it’s seen as a sort of indicator that something has gone wrong, not very nice for the fish but there you go.

Anonymous said...

Bertie you must be the most Boring person in Thanet

Anonymous said...

You know derogatory remarks about the land owners (who are quite within their rights to sell) really does cheapen your argument and any attempt to take your blog seriously.
I'm all for keeping Thanets water supply clean however a witch hunt against the land owners with your comments i quote "and those nice people, who will be familiar to regular readers, the Robertson Clan, at Alland Grange were happy to sell high quality agricultural land to be joined to KIBP"
Really does make you look petty and jealous please keep it on a business level and not make it a personal attack.
Your content is interesting its a shame you must refer so often in a Negative fashion.
I find it interesting that you use there family name whilst hiding your own...................