While most everyone in east Kent now realises that Imperial’s grand vision is unravelling by the day, Paul Clokie, leader of Ashford Borough Council, plods on in its service regardless. Yesterday he met members of the Stour Fisheries Association, which represents angling interests on the lovely river that runs through Wye, and sought to assure them that the so-called science park won’t ruin the neighbouring water with polluting effluent.
Not that he quite managed this. Cllr Clokie revealed to the group’s representatives that any science park would involve a plant to refine bio mass into fuel oil, as this site has predicted several times, though Imperial have repeatedly promised no manufacturing would take place in the village. Relax, though. Paul Clokie said Imperial had the technology to ensure that the resulting effluent, which presumably would find its way into the river by one means or another, would be purified to ensure it didn’t harm the environment.
The Stour is a migratory fish river: sea trout and a few salmon spawn in the section between Ashford and Canterbury, and brown trout spawn on the gravels, according to Mid Kent Fisheries
Does this sound convincing? Well, not to us anyway, not least because this is an industrial process Imperial has always said would not be happening in the village at all. The Great Stour is a unique and interesting river too. Though many of us may take this slender thread of gleaming water for granted it is rather special. This stretch of river is well documented by naturalists. It is a breeding ground for brown trout, some sea trout and occasionally even salmon. It is also home to the white claw crayfish, the native creature, pictured right, which is now a protected species and will surely be subject to future environmental surveys should Imperial’s plans ever be revived (all environmental surveys stopped when the project went into ‘economy mode’ earlier this year, remember).
Paul Clokie sat down with representatives of Stour Fisheries to give them a run through of the Imperial project. He told them the proposed house building at Wye — which might reach five thousand homes — was in addition to the Ashford area quota and passed on a lot of information you could have read here weeks ago. For example, Imperial has lost the sponsorship of BP for the village science park but still hoped that any research establishment would be involved in the production of engine oil. His comments about the availability of some magic bullet technology to clean up the effluent from Wye’s new fuel refinery were prompted by concerns among Stour Fisheries representatives about the effects this might have on the river. As you can see from the pop-up image on the right, Wye’s current water quality is listed as Grade B, which counts as good but not the best (the full report from which this is abstracted is available at the foot of this article). We are not aware of any great technical expertise on the part of Cllr Clokie when it comes to environmental effluent management, so we will leave to others the technical explanation of how the output of a fuel refinery might reach a modest river with no ill effects.
As far as we can ascertain, the one point at which Planet Clokie touched Planet Earth during this discussion came when he revealed that a decision on the council’s stance is likely to come next Monday. Though he didn’t reveal why, we already have; that is the date council planning chief Richard Alderton has fixed for a decision on the core strategy, one brought forward from October because of the revelations of Imperial’s actual plans here. Brown trout, white claw crayfish and the residents of the entire Wye area wait with bated breath.
The meeting with Stour Fisheries took place in the spill-over ABC accommodation in Charter House not the Civic Centre. Cllr Clokie told those present the authority knew there was a mole somewhere inside the council’s principal home.