We stand by it and Imperial won’t deny it

They refused to comment on our story about the mire that the Wye Park project is in but Imperial College has at least tacitly confirmed it to Kent on Sunday. In an article in tomorrow’s paper, Imperial is asked to deny save-wye’s original article — Imperial prepares to scrap its Wye Park vision — and notably fails to do so.

But we are not, frankly, surprised. Because the story is 100 per cent true and we stand by it.

On Wednesday, we revealed that the Imperial management board put the project into cold storage on June 16 and that all the consultants — apart from masterplanners SOM — had been pulled off it meaning that no planning application could be made until 2008 until the earliest. We also exclusively revealed that an Imperial bid for BP’s proposed £275million biosciences institute was being considered but that the college was not making its Wye Park plan the centrepiece of the bid — something rather perverse if ICL is committed to the Wye project and is, as it keeps telling us, trying to find ways of funding it. Research into biofuels is, as Imperial also keeps parroting, the raison d’etre for Wye Park. Funny then that you wouldn’t put the Wye project at the heart of a bid to BP unless, that is, the petroleum giant had said that it would not risk its own project by being associated with a plan to build on virgin farmland.

When asked all these things by Kent on Sunday, a spokesman for Imperial — who, incidentally, failed to comment on our original story when invited to do so — said that the college was ‘prioritising work on the masterplan but could not complete this until Ashford council published its local development framework’. ‘Imperial has not yet made a decision on whether to proceed with a planning application, but remains committed to exploring the scientific vision for Wye.’ Again, hardly a denial of our story.

The spokesman then goes on to confirm discussions with BP and says that a proposal ‘would not be dependent on possible future development proposals for Imperial’s campus in Wye’.

For anybody confused about this, save-wye.org would like to take this opportunity to reassure readers that we stand by our original story and are 100 per cent confident in our sources.

And we would also like to reassure KCC officers, who, when asked by journalists about the veracity of our story, said that it was ‘speculation’ and ‘without foundation’ that we are only too happy to discuss with them and councillors why there is little point in wasting any more time and money on a project that is now unofficially dead and that we would be delighted to prove it to them.

You can read the Kent on Sunday article here.

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About David Hewson

Professional novelist, published in more than 20 languages. Creator of the Nic Costa series set in modern Rome. Most recent book the novel of the Danish TV series, The Killing.
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2 Responses to We stand by it and Imperial won’t deny it

  1. Jack Woodford says:

    The WFG had another successful morning at Wye Farmers market, we managed to attract over 40 new members to our group, and even had a letter from Swaziland in support of our Chairman’s efforts. So the group is still active and in pursuit of its original aims…ie the stopping of massive development around Wye and surrounding districts. Just because there appears to be a halt in the intial ‘Imperial Vision’, it does not mean there is some other ‘nasty development’ lurking in the background to be sprung upon the residents of Wye and District, so WFG will continue to monitor any future plans put out by Imperial College. The Film Crew were out in the Market, and the Chairman gave a short piece on the WFG and its aims, so this will be televised on Channel 4 sometime in August on the programe devoted to the village of Wye.

  2. Barry says:

    Having just read through recent comments, there are one or two references to the need to promote uses for the ‘greenfield’ land around Wye to protect from development.
    Here’s a radical thought: It could be used to produce food, for which local people paid a fair price, thus ensuring a vibrant rural economy where farmers can maintain the countryside for everyones enjoyment.
    Most people visiting save-wye do most of their food shopping in supermarkets. In so doing, you waive the right to complain about the loss of farmland to development. As the saying goes, ‘Eat the View’.

    ps. re Jacks reference to the tv crew; it was for BBC4 not Channel 4, so in digital-free Wye you’ll need to find someone with a dirty-digger-dish to watch it on.

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