Why you need to make your voice heard now…

A concerned Wye resident with close associations with the College writes…

Sad to say, Wye villagers have constantly been reassured that, individually, they do not need to respond to the South East Plan (‘RSS’), a vital consultation process which closes at 5 p.m. this Friday, 23 June. The advice has repeatedly been given that the quantity of representations is less important at this stage in the planning process than quality. All that is required, we were told, is ‘a couple of really well-argued responses’, and Wye Parish Council and Wye Future Group will be writing them specifically for us.

It is therefore particularly interesting to see that, in this week’s Kentish Express (15 June, pages 26-27), London Ashford Airport Limited has paid for a complete two-page spread to urge people to “Say YES to Lydd Airport expansion” and one page even provides the form and wording to make such a representation. So why is the company doing this? The answer is that so many local residents of Lydd have responded previously to the South East Plan and have said NO to the expansion. Now the company has had to resort to desperate measures, and an expensive advertising campaign, to defend their commercial interests!

In the case of Wye, a planner has at long last been consulted on the value of people making their own representations and – guess what? – his advice is that it is very important for as many people as possible to respond to the South East Plan. But simply writing in support of someone else’s response does not count for anything as consultation on documents like the South East Plan does not work that way! People and other organisations must make their own responses and masses of individual letters, each objecting and commenting on Policy EKA 7 will count. They will be read and collated and then the Government Office of the South East will have to show how it proposes to deal with each and every one!

Responding to the South East Plan is urgent but straightforward. You can simply say that you object to Policy EKA7 and you want mention of Wye Campus removed. Family members should make separate submissions. To do this electronically, please use the response link available here.

  • Enter your details and choose a user name and password to register
  • Say you OPPOSE Policy EKA 7 in the first boxes
  • Summarise your opposition in your own words in the next box
  • If you wish, please give more details in the following box
  • Most important of all, in the final box request that the reference to the Wye Campus of Imperial College London is deleted from Policy EKA7

If you prefer, you can download a form (PDF or Word) which can be posted or faxed, or completed offline and emailed to response@eipsoutheast.co.uk Full details are available here.

As readers know, the http://www.save-wye.org website has revealed many reasons to object to Imperial’s proposal, but for good measure here is a new one. You may like to consider that Wye was established as a centre for agricultural education and research, quite properly located in the countryside where experimentation and practical teaching could take place. Now Policy EKA7 proposes allowing “high quality proposals for intensifying or expanding technology, knowledge and scientific sectors” and identifies “Wye Campus of Imperial College” as a location.

However, Imperial’s vision for Wye, supported by Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council by the signing of both Wye Concordats, envisages a “world-class science research and manufacturing facility”. At the centre of this would be the research institute concerned with discovering a new type of technology, researching the development of biofuels, pharmaceuticals and other hydrocarbons, together with an associated science park specialising in, but not restricted to, this new technology.

Such technology is in its infancy but it involves the synthesis of volatile and flammable materials coupled with biologically active molecules, capable of breaking and joining molecules to form even more active materials. The technology may involve both high temperature and pressure vessels. Laboratories would be equipped with fume hoods and chimneys, some cleansed using water and others with active flames to destroy volatiles which are emitted to the air. Hardly an appropriate activity to be located in a peaceful Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or close to residential areas in Wye or elsewhere!

Even with the best safety precautions in place, accidents will happen in such development processes, which may involve both forceful explosions and the loss of dangerously active carcinogens and toxins into the atmosphere. It is completely reckless of Imperial to propose to site such a facility in proximity to existing and their proposed residential areas. A secretive, high security science park with numerous independent companies (with a varied experience of dealing with safety matters!) would also be completely disastrous ecologically. Wye has an environmentally sensitive landscape with 21 important SSSIs and we share this precious place with many protected species and tens of thousands of walkers.

For maps and details of the 885 acres of Wye and Crundale Downs SSSI see here.
Wye is not a sustainable location for any type of large scale development, which should be focused on urban areas and on previously developed land already identified in the Greater Ashford Development Framework. To increase traffic to this rural location – by thousands of employees and heavy goods lorries travelling to Wye – is itself an unsustainable option. In turn, Imperial’s ‘Wye Park’ would require extensive new roads and car parks dominating this designated heritage area.

The good news is that there is just time left for you as a Wye resident, and anyone who cares for the village and its countryside, to follow the fine example set by Lydd, so please put finger to keyboard and send your own response. Please write now and pass on the message to friends and neighbours. The deadline is 5 p.m. Friday 23 June. Together we can stop Imperial’s vision in its tracks, and then there will be time to consider what scale and type of development would be appropriate for Wye.


About David Hewson

Professional novelist, published in more than 20 languages. Creator of the Nic Costa series set in modern Rome, Pieter Vos in Amsterdam, adaptions of the Sarah Lund stories in Copenhagen, and versions of Shakespeare worked for Audible.
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11 Responses to Why you need to make your voice heard now…

  1. David Hewson says:

    I gather certain sections of WFG are upset with us for carrying this article and see it as an official expression of save-wye opinion on this matter or, worse, some attempt to cut across their territory. If I might make this clear for the millionth time: opinions expressed here are those of the author, not this site, since this site is a blog not an organisation. In this case we have allowed the author to write anonymously for very good reasons and because they make interesting and important points.

    If someone from WFG or anywhere else wishes to explain their disagreement with this advice they are free to do so here as always.

  2. Ian Cooling says:


    Forgive me another of my cliffs of words, but I’m sure that the author of the above article will wish the residents of Wye to know what it is they are objecting to before they do so. The full text of Policy EKA 7 of the South East Plan is therefore available here.

    Once you have read through the Policy, I’ll clarify and counter the more alarmist points made in the article above. I do so in order that anyone wanting to respond to the SE Plan, for or against EKA 7, is fully informed – not partially informed by the views of our anonymous correspondent, which are just a teeny bit selective.

    Points to Note in EKA 7
    Please note there is no mention of any manufacturing facilities at Wye. Note too the emphasis on satisfying the environmental criteria. This is underpinned by the draft ABC Policy for the Campus at Wye, which I have recently posted on the site here.

    Finally, note the central role of the Borough Council’s Local Development Framework (LDF) in all this. SE Plan merely provides the context for the LDF. It has been (and remains) my view throughout that the LDF and specifically the emerging policy for Wye Campus, are the key policy documents and that is where I suggest we should focus our time and energies. And here’s why……

    The View of the Community
    One of the strongest and most consistent messages I have received from the Wye Community is that the College should remain open – renewed and re-invigorated and with the international reputation it used to enjoy fully restored. What they do not want is equally clear – no enabling development plastering hundreds of acres of housing across the green fields of the College land within the AONB (incidentally, much of the 885 acres of SSSI quoted above is actually not on College land or is on the scarp face, so that figure is a bit of a red herring – one of several).

    Reading the policy in this light, you will see that there is no green light for any of the alarmist activities sketched out above. It is therefore essential that we do not throw the baby out with the bathwater and end up with a policy that rules out anything new at Wye. That is most emphatically not what the majority of the community want.

    I would also guess that we do not want a diluted and downgraded version of the aspirations in the policy either. I’m pretty sure that even our anonymous correspondent (with close links to the College)would not wish a policy that aspires to “Low quality proposals for diminishing and shrinking the technology, knowledge and scientific sectors…..at Wye” to adapt the words of the draft policy.

    The nature of the research
    This section puzzled me most as I assume the writer has a scientific background. If the technology is in its infancy (which I doubt – it is more likely that the application is in its infancy, not the technology) then surely it is the job of a research institute to take it beyond infancy – or have I misunderstood the point of a research institute?

    I also sense that it might well be counter-productive to try and frighten readers with scare stories about the processes involved. Few of us are unaware of the constraints and limitations that have been put on such activities by law – one of the few sensible outcomes of Health & Safety legislation – or of the way technology has advanced to ensure compliance.

    If the writer does have a scientific background and close links with the College, then I wonder what his or her professional colleagues, perhaps better versed and more up-to-date in the relevant disciplines – and the build quality of modern laboratories – will make of this alarmist stuff. But I’ll leave them to deal directly on that issue. Oh, I forgot, this is anonymous (I’m beginning to understand why); perhaps they should reply c/o save-wye?

    Planning Processes
    I’m not sure where the cited “planner” works. However, a couple of points about the process may be helpful. Firstly, it is indeed likely that officers will address each objection, but it is incorrect to imply that officers simply put the pros on one side of the scale the antis on the other and press the button. “Five kilos of Yes, three kilos of No – Let’s go ahead” It would be crassness of a particularly high quality if any decisions of any significance were to be made on that basis.

    Remember too, that that it is the role of the planners to advise and the role of others to decide. These may be ABC Members, the Planning Inspectorate or the relevant department in Whitehall (whatever it is called that week) or, more likely, all of them.

    Of course, effective consultation is central to the process, but the results will be one factor among several weighed in the balance to decide the final outcome. This makes it doubly important that submissions are well-considered and well-argued. So should you wish to comment on EKA 7 – for or against – please lay out your case fully.

    In conclusion……
    And looping back to my point about the SE Plan setting the scene for the LDF and the planning applications that will follow; I suggest it is the latter two sets of documents we need to focus on. They will home in specifically on the Wye Campus. They will not address broad-brush issues for a swathe of southern England stretching around London from Milton Keynes to Deal.

    Against the background I sketch above, I urge you to think through the full implications of the blanket rejection of this policy advocated above before you go down that road – remember the baby and the bathwater. If, having done so, you still decide to proceed, that will then be fine by me. I’m not advocating any view here, just laying out a few additional thoughts to mull over as I do believe that better-informed decisions are usually better decisions (or so I tell my MBA students).

    That done, please do make sure you respond again when the Ashford LDF comes up for consultation once more in the autumn – and again when the planning applications start to flow. We’ve a long way to go and it is important to pace our responses, harbour our resources – and stick with it!

  3. David Hewson says:

    Imperial have already said they are abandoning undergraduate teaching in Wye and handing that over to the University of Kent. It is a moot point what, if any, of the existing buildings they would occupy even if the scheme does go ahead. They simply haven’t said. UoK, on the other hand, predicts an undergraduate business community of 500 by 2008, which would be better than any since shortly after Imperial took over. So what baby? What bathwater?

    The statements on manufacturing are also vague in the extreme. Countess Sondes has said here that here centre will NOT be involved in research. What exactly will it do then?

  4. Guest Contributor says:

    The SE Plan has been drawn up by a group of experienced planners and developers so its is vital that the poor old electorate express a view of what this elite think about the world we should live in tomorrow.
    It is human nature to react only to the things we find unacceptable – and there are aspects of the RSS that fall into this category. Let those that want to remove reference to Wye in the RSS say so and let others who disagree write accordingly.
    Could someone out there write the argument for supporting Wye’s inclusion. Is that what Tamesis are paid to do?? Hello boys – are you awake?

    Let us consider the Imperial Vision. Imperial are absolutely right to want to enter the energy crisis problem. Just a few years down the line we are going to run out of our precious fossil fuels which provide our electricity, gas and the chemicals to make our plastics and pharmaceuticals. The Bearman report commissioned by Imperial indicated the current thoughts about the way forward. It is a very difficult problem which will need the best researchers from around the world to work together. We should support the vision to research sustainable and non polluting new fuel technologies. Of course carbon based fuels, one of the lines of research, still produce carbon dioxide on combustion so no help there then.

    The question is not should this work take place but is it appropriate to take place in Wye? Ian is quite right that health and safety issues must take precedence at all times and will be in the forefront. Every stage of every experiment will have a careful risk appraisal and the procedures to follow. These risks assessments are based on past experience and there is a wealth of knowledge out there. Every chemical purchased comes with a manufacturer’s data sheet on the precautions to be used.

    However, Imperial are not spending £1.5 billion to do something that has become a regular procedure. Imperial quite rightly lead the world in new innovative techniques which, if they are found to work, are patented and bring in royalties to fund new research endeavours. The very nature of new innovative techniques means that there is no handbook warning of the pitfalls. The best brains of the world will do their best to ensure safety but you can’t guarantee it. Just think about the development of rocket technology – not every one gets off the ground and some don’t complete their mission but the work is not done in a small country village in one of the most populated areas of the world!

    OK so let’s think about the technologies we do know about. How about storage of fuels? Remember Hatfield earlier this year? This is a technology known about all over the world and here in the UK we pride ourselves on our health and safety record. So what do we hear last week – only that there are another 20 or so storage facilities in the UK that are as dangerous as Hatfield. So, when we are dealing with a known technology that goes wrong we say it’s human error. Don’t you think that when we are dealing with new unknown technologies the chance of human error is just a tiny bit higher?

    Fortunately, Imperial are not planning a Hatfield centre here in Wye – OR ARE THEY? I think they are saying that they want to build a new innovative research institute to come up with new methods of producing fuels. I don’t think you spend £1.5 billion producing them in test tubes – I think you get involved in small pilot production facilities. Some of you may remember the explosion of the old PPL (now Quest) pilot plant in the 70s. I believe it killed one worker and terribly burnt two others with concentrated Nitric Acid. Fortunately pilot plants of this nature are made with lightweight roofs and strong side walls that force the energy and toxic materials upwards out of harm’s way! Look out lines of washing and SSSI small beasties!

    So where should you site such an innovative centre? Well I suggest that the Americans would put it a desert – say the centre of Arizona. Would it be wise to put it in the centre of a heritage village and then build a few thousand new houses around it? I don’t think so! Of course, if you don’t build the biofuel centre and Science Park in Wye, you wouldn’t need to build the houses.

    As David points out the University of Kent will already have as many students in Wye as the old Wye College. Christchurch College are already renting College buildings and carrying out interesting research projects including ones in biocontrol. So Wye already has a thriving non-Imperial university campus with great green credentials.

    Under Imperial’s plans the Christchurch leasing of College laboratories ends in 2008, no doubt ready for demolition, and the brownfield will be ripe for development. Does the village really want to swap this for something potentially so volatile?

  5. Ian Cooling says:

    For “Guest”
    I think we have had this discussion before. You clearly have an awareness of risk assessment. You will therefore have an awareness of probability. The “scare tactic” examples you continue to quote, reaching back over 30 years into the seventies, stretch the probabilities to the point where any objective assessment would regard the risk as acceptable. The Hatfield example is hardly comparable and I’m surprised you quote it.

    I’m afraid that your continuing exaggerations, such a stating that the site will be “in the centre of the village” and hinting that a “Hatfield” might be built here, do not really advance your argument.

    I do not see Imperial’s “vision” as incompatible with the continuation of the organisations you list, which I would guess have spun off Wye College research. Indeed, it is clearly the intention that more would be created.

    My underlying point remains. Let us not close off options before we know what the options are. And let us certainly not do so by conjuring up demons to frighten ourselves with.

    For David
    I agree. It is possible that Imperial’s deal with UoK is their exit route from Wye, or may turn into that. As I say above, the problem with scare-mongering is that minds will be made up before a proper choice can be made – although that may of course be the intention.

    And before it is assumed that the UoK option is firm, check out how much it would cost for them to sort out the built estate at Wye – then check out their latest published budget. I suggest that even if they were to be given the campus for free (which would have to be doubtful), they would be very pushed indeed to afford it.

    We would then find ourselves back in the Wye College situation of a constant scrabble to keep heads above the financial waters, while maintenance is cut back to the minimum, the structures continue to decay, staff cut-backs become the order of the day, UoK leadership in Canterbury worry about the drain on finances and want to close Wye, Dr John Bearman, (son of the former Imperial College luminary, Prof. Peter Bearman) heads up a committee to investigate the future Wye – but I must stop there and give myself a slapped wrist for conjuring up demons!

    Seriously, I’m not alone in wanting to see Wye’s name back up there in lights. Like many, I see potential for good in the Imperial “vision”, not the bad I read here day after day. My start point is that an international quality research institute could put Wye back on the map and bring jobs back into the village (and houses – within the brownfield sites of course). I do not see the College turning into a single-degree branch office of UoK as being in any way comparable.

    But I shall reserve my judgement until I have a firm set of proposals to judge.

  6. MikeC says:

    Speaking as a tenant on the ICL estate at Wye could I join in this argument? I’d like to say that the future is not at all clear and we have no certainty of being able to continue work at Wye. It is not just Christchurch University but all the college leases which end in 2008. It seems ironic that Imperial plans could actually destroy some of the greenest enterprises in Kent!

    Biological Crop Protection Ltd, up Occupation Road, supply bumble bees for pollinating crops in glasshouses and are one of the UK’s largest producers of predatory insects and mites that control pests and ensure that the crops we eat are free of pesticide residues. They also supply the amateur gardener with safe plant protection through Defenders. BCP have received the Queen’s Award for export achievement and employ a considerable number within the village and would like to expand but if Imperial want to develop along Occupation Road (one of their obvious brownfield sites) they would have to look for new premises.

    Similarly, WyeBugs supplies all of the UK’s needs for specialist ladybirds and tiny parasitic wasps to control scale insects and mealybugs used in Kew Gardens, the Eden Project, zoos, every botanical garden and interior landscapes, as well as on commercial crops and by amateur growers and butterfly centres throughout the country. We use the same pests and beneficials to carry out efficacy trials for new generations of non-polluting, non-toxic, plant protection products.

    It is very difficult for any of us to make any plans when the future of Wye is so uncertain. Imperial’s ‘vision’ appears to be completely incompatible with the continuation of organisations like ours when our leases will shortly expire!

    Mike Copland, WyeBugs

  7. David Hewson says:

    Like many, I see potential for good in the Imperial “vision”, not the bad I read here day after day.

    Good in what exactly? I see nothing but a string of vague, changing and contradictory promises that read more like a draft press release than a firm and serious proposal. The only thing Imperial seem remotely certain about is that they want to build on the AONB. Are you saying there are circumstances in which you would find that acceptable? If so can we know what they are?

  8. Ian Cooling says:

    I have not said here or anywhere else, that building on the greenfield AONB sites is acceptable to me. However, along with many others, I do see good in properly controlled development of the College’s brownfield sites, which daily fall into deeper dereliction. I see the potential (and my caveat is the word “potential”)for good in:

    Jobs – to replace the hundreds that have seeped out of the village in the past 10-15 years.

    Affordable housing – for the younger Wye families who can’t afford to live in their own village.

    Other new housing – built within walking distance of the jobs

    All new housing – built to the highest standards of build quality and sustainability.

    The lanes – controlled (repeat – controlled) up-grade of the lanes into and out of the village.

    Medical facilities – upgraded

    Re-opening of shops – more people living and working in the village can sustain more shops.

    New facilities – an arts & heritage centre for example?

    And, of course, the re-birth of the College – which is so central to the life of the village in so many ways.

    I could go on, but readers will be able to make their own additions.

    As I say, the key word in all this is “potential”. We need specific proposals before we can see whether that potential is to be realised. You are right to say you have seen no firm proposals – there are none; including none about the greenfield sites: kite-flying – yes; proposals – no. That is why I say, often, that until I see firm proposals I’m not about to set off on any windmill tilting expedition.

    But you are right to home in on the greenfield issue. This remains an over-riding concern I hear in the village. I have been consistent in saying throughout that one of our most powerful defences against development on the greenfield sites is the legislation, especially that relating to the AONB.

    It is also worth bearing in mind that the kite flown about housing on the greenfield sites (and don’t make the mistake of seeing it as anything other than a kite) is for enabling development to put money in the kitty for the research institute and the related housing.

    The key point here is that there is no precedent anywhere in the country for such enabling development on AONB land. That will be a central and powerful plank in our case.

    For this reason, I have been equally consistent in taking every opportunity to tell decision-makers in Imperial and elsewhere that Imperial should simply forget those fields as a source of funding and look elsewhere. Your report on possible UN funding may indicate that this message is getting through.

    But going back to the baby and bathwater – I do worry about your relentless focus over such a long period on finding only downside interpretations of practically everything Imperial does. I worry because I see a very real danger that the potential for good will be lost when people draw up their own balance sheets of pros and cons. I make clear now that I do not think this is your intention, but I do think it is the effect.

    It can also give a misleading impression of the villagers’ views, to the many readers who log in from elsewhere. It is clear from the postings that there are only a very small number of active contributors on the site and they are by no means a typical cross-section of the community. Indeed, if all contributions made by this small number of contributors are added together, they are actually less than the total of the contributions and comments posted by yourself and Justin.

    I know you repeatedly ask others with other views to join in – and I do too so I share your frustration that there are so few takers. But you might ask yourself why this is.

  9. Ian Cooling says:

    Hi Mike,

    Thought it was you who was the “Guest Contributor” above! *

    I could be wrong, but I sense that the short-term leases are the result of Imperial’s uncertainty as well as the cause of yours. I can actually see the logic in Imperial not granting long leases until they decide what to do with Wye. I gather from comments at the last workshop, that SOM’s work will be one of the feeders into that decision. One question many will want answered at the next workshop is when will that decision be taken.

    If Imperial stays, then I guess that new leases would be on offer. If Imperial decide to pull out of Wye (which I would certainly regret, as I have made clear above) then I guess you would start over with the new owners.

    However, I’d be quite surprised if it did not take a fair while to find a buyer. Sites like the Campus simply are not snapped up overnight and the inter-regnum can be sometimes be measured in years rather than months. Also, if Imperial walks away because they feel it is simply too much hassle – that might give potential buyers pause for thought.

    That said, you give very good examples of some of the many uncertainties still hanging over the village over six months since the December announcement. That this should still be so is indefensible and Imperial have certainly received that message loud and clear from any number of villagers.

    Let’s hope that with SOM now engaged in the way they should have been months ago, we can have that most critical stay/go decision made sooner rather than later.

  10. David Hewson says:

    * He wasn’t.

    I note that in this amazing stuff about such pipedreams as ‘affordable housing for the younger Wye families’ (a public relations myth already punctured here) and an arts and heritage centre (presumabhly one where people will be able to see exhibits that record the time Wye was once a village) we still haven’t had an anaswer to the simple question…

    The only thing Imperial seem remotely certain about is that they want to build on the AONB. Are you saying there are circumstances in which you would find that acceptable? If so can we know what they are?

    We don’t represent the views of the village; we simply try to ask interesting questions and find answers to them. But I don’t think you represent the views of the village either, Ian. You seem to have made up your mind about this already and seek to soften people up into going along with them on the grounds that,’Won’t it be awful if the College leave? Wouldn’t a reasonable person listen to what they have to say first?’

    I would like to think I’m reasonable and I have been listening… to a lot of hot air that contains only one certainty: a lot of development, and on protected countryside. I also think that in practice Imperial College is leaving Wye in any case; it’s handed undergraduate teaching over to UoK and is principally a landlord here at the moment, of a college which will soon be the size Wye was ten years ago. It was their decision to get out, regardless of the effect on the village. It’s a shame you never seem able to make much of these plain facts, but only seem dazzled by Imperial’s ‘vision’, which seems to most people hazy in the extreme and tainted by the fact that it comes from the very people who created this problem in the first place.

    There is absolutely no reason why someone cannot hold the posiition: I would like the college to be revived (which it apparently will be to a modest extent), but not at that cost. It’s a shame you try to drown out other opinions with scaremongering, a lot of words that don’t add up to much and a bunch of wholly unjustified accusations about motive.

    You have had a very long say here, much of it arguing against an article which simply urged people to take an active part in the democratic process. I think that is enough for now, thanks.

  11. Justin Williams says:

    On February 16 at a meeting of the parish council, Ian made clear that he would resist any attempt to build on the greenfield sites in the AONB. He added: ‘One of the benefits I see, is using brownfield land to bring some jobs back in. The downside is the scale. They haven’t come clean how much land they want. If they stick to the brownfield sites with well-designed, well constructed [buildings] with proper materials, I wouldn’t have a problem with that.’

    In his open letter to the village on March 23, he said: ‘But where do I stand on Imperial’s ‘vision’? Like many I have spoken with, I can see real benefits in developing the increasingly woebegone campus at Wye, but not at any cost. I should welcome new, well-designed, environmentally-sound buildings on the brown field sites. I should want them to be built of local materials and be of a ‘look’ and a scale that harmonises with the rest of the village. I should not welcome constructions that jar with their surroundings.’
    He then added: ‘I do not like the idea that the price we have to pay should be discordant swathes of new housing. There are other ways of raising funds for the academic venture open to Imperial. They must be explored – and used.
    And I shall be watching like a hawk for any proposals about the AONB!’

    In a comment underneath this piece, he wrote: ‘What is and remains unacceptable to that same large majority, would be speculative money-making development on greenfield land within the AONB. And that is where my personal line is drawn too.’

    It seems a shame that Ian has not, so far, repeated his assurances made on February 16 and March 23 about the AONB.

    Like David, I am extremely concerned that this appears to be an attempt to portray this site as somehow negative with our ‘relentless focus over such a long period on finding only downside interpretations of practically everything Imperial does’ and the implication that save-wye is trying to represent a particular viewpoint.

    Neither David nor I feel that we have any obligation save that of uncovering everything and anything we can about the Wye Park saga and reversing the appalling and shameful peversion of the democratic process that started at the beginning of 2005 when some of Ian’s colleagues started their secret negotiations with Imperial College. That process continues today. Some of those involved would do well to remember that they are forbidden – under the Code of Conduct – from negotiating with a developer when they know that a planning application is either imminent or likely.

    David and I are not part of a campaign. We have no connection with either of the groups fighting Imperial’s proposals. We have – on numerous occasions – offered senior figures at Imperial the opportunity to write, respond or comment on this website. All have been rebuffed. Ian’s leader, Paul Clokie, refuses to talk to us.

    All this is extraordinary given the amazing and friendly co-operation that we have received from many other people at the heart of negotiations with Imperial. I am sure that many would be very surprised to know the names of some of those who have supplied us with the information that has led to many of the stories on save-wye.org. We have had great help and co-operation from senior officers in both councils, very senior and respected councillors and even from people within the hierachy of Imperial College and its management board.

    save-wye.org genuinely is non-partisan and if Ian is worried about how most of the articles portray Imperial’s plans in a negative light then perhaps he should ask why this might be. The truth is that this entire saga has been an incredibly negative one and this is all down to the behaviour of Imperial College and those it managed to persuade into its ‘concordat’ process who continue to dig deeper and deeper.

    I have received many emails and offers of support from people in Wye and I don’t even live there. I receive emails and phonecalls on a weekly basis and every one of these – without exception – has been from somebody who opposes Imperial’s plans as they currently stand.

    I’m also extremely concerned about this statement: ‘I have been equally consistent in taking every opportunity to tell decision-makers in Imperial and elsewhere that Imperial should simply forget those fields as a source of funding and look elsewhere. Your report on possible UN funding may indicate that this message is getting through.’ I do hope that this is not a deliberate misrepresentation of our stories on the international non-food crops centre in the way that Prof Sir Leszek and Sir Richard Sykes seem to be undertaking. There is absolutely no chance of UN funding for Imperial’s plans – there is not any UN funding being put into the non-food crops centre at Wye anyway and, as anybody who has read about this will now know, this has nothing to do with Imperial’s ‘vision’. Furthermore, as Sir Richard made clear to several guests on May 23, Imperial is extremely unwilling to seek external sources of funding.

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