Read the latest press released from Chocks - Go Away
SUMMER 2022 NEWS SO FAR...
Lots has happened since our last update!
The community’s appointed planning consultant, Le Vaillant Owen, completed a full review of the many missing documents eventually published by DDC. Further detailed representations were made on a range of key issues, including Habitats (Sandwich Bay Bird Reserves), Landscape Character, Ground Water, Public Rights of Way, Heritage, and Planning Policy. We’ve also taken legal advice to inform the position on planning policy and also DDC’s obligations under the Habitat Regulations and to highlight the serious issues and omissions in the applicant’s habitats assessment. Valerie Owen has done an excellent job of examining these issues extremely thoroughly and put forward very strong planning arguments on each of the topics. All the representations submitted on your behalf can be read on the DDC planning portal..
The most important news is that we’ve carried out a full on-site background noise survey on behalf of the community. The applicant was asked by DDC to provide a further report on noise, which included some noise survey data gathered by the applicant’s noise consultancy at the end of March. Our noise consultancy, Hayes McKenzie, has been busy reviewing this, and we felt it necessary that they carry out their own on-site survey on behalf of residents in order to be able to gather data which has allowed them to properly examine the applicant’s conclusions. With this noise survey data, Hayes McKenzie has been able to objectively characterise the area and show it as both quiet and tranquil and demonstrate that the proposed new noise will result in a very signficant harmful change to the sound environment. This background noise survey came at a considerable cost but was essential to allow a proper objective examination of the applicant’s assumptions about noise. The applicant continues to try to find a way to suggest that 7500 aircraft movements won’t cause any noise problems. While this is clearly an absurd notion, it requires an expert rebuttal to ensure DDC has strong objective evidence showing clear grounds for refusal due to noise. You’ve all helped provide this with your support and donations. You can read the Hayes McKenzie report on the DDC planning portal.
What happens next?
The issue of noise is still under review. DDC is expected to respond on noise shortly with DDC Environmental Health giving their position on the applicant’s proposal, having read both the latest from the applicant, and the residents comprehensive survey and report.
The impact to the bird reserves also remains open. These protected sites extend from Sandwich Bay up the Lydden Valley, which runs through farmland in Northbourne. The runway points directly toward the bird reserves and takeoffs and landings from the NE will overfly the RAMSAR bird reserves at the closest point, which is just 1500m from the runway. Natural England is a key consultee with responsibility for commenting on applications which may impact such protected sites. Natural England recently responded to state that there is potential for disturbance of birds at the protected sites and that they require mitigation where the aircraft will not overfly the reserves. This seems very hard for the applicant to ensure, given the proximity of the reserves and the orientation of the runway. DDC will now need to carry out a more detailed assessment of the impacts.
Only once the positions on noise and the protected bird sites are finalised by DDC planners will the application be put forward to the Planning Committee for a decision. At this point, it seems unlikely this application will go to Planning Committee until later in the summer or the autumn, but we will keep you posted.
The application is now up against a number of difficult issues which are starting to mount up - footpath safety and amenity, groundwater pollution, noise, impact to protected bird sites, harm to landscape character, harm to heritage setting (conservation area and high profile listed buildings). Your support and the engagement and help from so many people across this community has been vital in ensuring these issues were properly examined and put forward. Northbourne, Little Mongeham and the surrounding villages have said a resounding “NO” to Little Mongeham Airfield. This has been a true community led movement and Chocks Go-Away has had support from a huge range of people with now hundreds of members and many providing detailed expert advice, contacts, support and technical help.
The professional fees continue to mount up. Le Vaillant Owen, Hayes Mckenzie and Leigh Day are doing a great job, but they have invested very considerable amounts of time in the latest phase. We do need to continue to fight this last phase and we will need to raise more funds to ensure final representations are made in the run up to the Planning Committee meeting.