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 email@example.com 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.