Maidstone & The Weald MP Helen Grant MP and Chatham & Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch have joined together to express concern about Kent County Council’s proposal to include Oaken Wood in its Mineral Sites Plan. The MPs have looked at the proposals and are unconvinced of the technical evidence that the Site would make a significant difference to the shortfall yet would destroy much loved woodland in the process. Both Helen and Tracey recognised that there is further work being undertaken to put together technical evidence over the course of the next few months but remain fundamentally concerned about the impact on the local ancient woodland.
Helen said: One my enduring pledges since I was first elected as MP for Maidstone & The Weald in 2010 has been to protect the environment, and our precious green spaces, from inappropriate development. On that, I remain as steadfast today as ever.
KCC’s call to extend the quarry at Hermitage Lane will inevitably cause irreparable damage to the ancient subsoil of Oaken Wood. I acknowledge that there are competing factors surrounding this issue, not least the effect on local jobs, and the additional carbon emissions that will arise from importing alternative products.
I am unconvinced, however, that the benefit of extending the future supply of Kent ragstone from this location wins the day here, and that is why I am opposing the extension, as I did in 2013.
Tracey said: “I regularly enjoy the benefits of Oaken Wood, walking and cycling on the public footpaths through the site. At a time when we are trying to protect our environment for future generations, it seems mad to lose such a wonderful means of climate control, especially when we are seeing all our green spaces concreted over with houses. I really need to see proper evidence that the benefits of quarrying Oaken Wood outweigh the destruction of the environment before I can support the site being in the Council’s long-term plan”.