City to Sea

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The Hoo Peninsula is part of and the central focus of the Wider North Kent Marshes which stretch  from Dartford in the west to Whitstable in the east.  This area is internationally renowned and protected for its wetlands and nationally protected by sites of special Scientific interests. However the Development in Hoo and its out lying villages is not the only threat this important and most precious place faces.

The new Lower Thames Crossing which will cut right across an area of wetlands near Higham and will inevitably increase the pressure on the need for new housing and business to support the ever increasing population.


The more I learn the more I feel I need to stand up for this special an unique place.

So what do we mean when we say a new National Park? Clearly we do not live in an area you would normally associate with the status of “National Park” we are not in the “Lake District” or “The New Forest” why would we ever consider making the Hoo peninsula a National Park?

Consider for a moment, London, which has just become the first “National Park City,
“London will be: a city which is greener in the long-term than it is today and where people and nature are better connected. a city which protects the core network of parks and green spaces and where buildings and public spaces aren’t defined only by stone, brick, concrete, glass and steel”.

The Hoo peninsula and its Greater North Kent Marshes is in a unique position between the City and Sea, it could and should be a landscape asset maintained as a legacy for all our futures a place of unique biodiversity sensitively accessible to everyone.

Planned to achieve an environmental balance to the city and able contribute to the carbon neutralisation of the growing urban sprawl an area to create wealth and employment in tourism and leisure and local produce.

Rural regeneration of a landscape designed to showcase this unique area between the Thames and Medway estuaries featuring it’s raw beauty
as Dickens described a landscape rich in history.

Massive schemes for road bridges, unco ntrollable  and unsustainable development, fill me with fear and dread that we are on the cusp of losing what we have forever.
Join me in the fight for the future. 

Should the Peninsula be a National Park
First
Where do you live

Why a national park

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In 1861 Charles Dickens ‘ famous novel Great Expectations was published and I’m sure many of you will recollect his famous words written about our marshes that are as relevant now as they were nearly 160 years ago .

“Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the rivers wound, twenty miles of the sea.  My first most vivid and broad impression of the identity of things seems to me to have been gained on a memorable raw afternoon towards evening. At such a time I found out for certain that this bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard………. and that the flat dark wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dikes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing was the sea…..

Dickens was describing a scene unchanged to this day. With your help, future generations will be able to make the same comparisons.

The idea of making the Hoo Peninsula a National Park is not a new one. Others before us have realised how important this unassuming piece of real estate is to our Natural and Cultural Heritage.

Most would never see it in the same light as the picture postcard destinations such as the Lake District or the New Forest.

But,

The Hoo Peninsula is, in my opinion, the second most important wildlife site in England, internationally designated and protected.

The Hoo Peninsula is home to the Thames and Medway Estuary Marshes covering an area of 38 sq miles from Gravesend rounding the Isle of Grain to Rochester. It is the central most important and fundamental feature of the greater North Kent Marshes which stretches from Dartford all the way to Whitstable.

The Hoo Peninsula is the custodian of a Ramsar, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protected Areas (SPA). They include coastal grazing marsh, intertidal mudflats, salt marsh and fresh water lagoons. At the end of the escarpment of the North Downs lies Northwood Hill, a National Nature Reserve, overlooking the marsh to the north.

Picture if you will the dikes fanning out across marsh to the estuary beyond channelling the gently ebbing and flowing tide. Look a little closer and see the myriad of wildlife feeding on the richly fertile mudflat with its high content of organic material ideal for the filter feeding scavenger Invertebrates and of course flocks of wintering wildfowl, phenomenal and spectacular in numbers.

In the foreground the vast expanse of lowland wet grassland lies in front of the sea wall maintaining a bio diverse food source when the salt marsh is covered by the tide.  True Dickens Country!

Unlocking the potential of the Hoo Peninsula to development will herald the beginning of the end for this national treasure for ever and the unstoppable march of the urban fringe.

Please join with me and help make the Hoo Peninsula a National Park.

Help Protect our Natural and Cultural Heritage.

Help to make it a place where people and nature are better connected.

A place that continues to be rich in wildlife.

A place where we, our children and our grandchildren, can connect with nature and benefit from exploring, playing and learning.

We are among the most Nature depleted nations in the world our government statisticians tell us that :-

We have lost 97% of our wildflower meadows since 1930.

We have ever more specie of birds in decline.

Insects and invertebrates are struggling.

A third of our British bees are in decline.

 WE MUST START NOW to make a change by embracing the idea of a National Park for the Hoo Peninsula, perhaps even encompassing the whole of the North Kent  Marshes. Making the whole area as large as the North Norfolk Coast.

We have the landscape, the raw beauty, the geology, the geography, the biodiversity, the history, the archaeology and the rare species of plants and animals.

What we now need is the will to start to plan and to work together with a real ambition to achieve a healthier, happier future and ensure our wonderful countryside is greener, more beautiful and PROTECTED FOR THE WHOLE NATION.

Please visit my website and pledge your support for the Hoo Peninsula National Park.

Www.ronsands.co.uk/whats-the-latest

Peninsula a National Park ?

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The Peninsula should be designated a National Park

We all aware that the Medway Local plan, originally due to be updated in 2003 is still not published.  In its present draft form it relies on a £170 million grant, not yet approved by central government to make sufficient improvements to our infrastructure for any large-scale sustainable development. In the meantime predatory unrestricted development is extending the urban fringe ever further on to the Peninsula.


I believe the Hoo Peninsula as a whole has sufficient merit to be declared a national park. The last National Park designated in the UK 2010 was the South Downs.
A national park shares two statutory purposes:-

 

To conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the area,
To promote the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the area.


The special qualities of a National Park include their
Landscape and views
Geology and geography
Biodiversity and rare species
Archaeology and history


I believe that our Peninsula meets all these criteria. Becoming a National Park would afford protection against unsustainable development and would enhance and celebrate it for what it is, a unique area full of natural and cultural heritage.

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We fought long and hard to protect the peninsula from becoming the site of an international hub airport. The nation is in equal danger in of losing it again to the ever-growing urban sprawl.


Please lead your support and join with us to protect our Peninsula, an area of environmental, historical, national and international importance.

 

Ron Sands

Should the Peninsula be a National Park
First
Where do you live

Lodge Hill

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At one time Lodge Hill was just like every other “Brown Field” site in the country but the discovery of Nightingale has changed that forever. 

  • As a nation, we have decided that those places that have been proven to be of national importance for wildlife should be protected. They are called Sites of Special Scientific Interest (nationally) and Special Protection Areas (internationally), and the rules that govern what can be built where say that, in layperson’s terms, these sites should not be destroyed or damaged. That damage isn’t only by them being built on, but the damage could come from building next to them – what are called ‘indirect effects’
  • The Hoo Peninsula is surrounded by protected wildlife sites – the Thames Estuary & Marshes, the Medway Estuary and Marshes, with Chattenden Woods and Lodge Hill in the middle.
  • Lodge Hill was protected because it holds the largest population of Nightingales in the whole of the UK. Nightingales are one of our most threatened species, having declined by 90% in the last 50 years, and with less than 5,500 pairs left.
  • The reason why Lodge Hill was such a big case nationally is in part because of the Nightingales but also because of the precedent it would set for protected sites everywhere
  • Homes England, the government’s ‘housing accelerator’, has now accepted that it would not be right to build on Lodge Hill, which was a major step
  • We are continuing to make the case that new housing shouldn’t be within 400m of Lodge Hill because of the indirect effects (lighting, noise, dogs, cats, people…etc etc – Nightingales can’t cope with all that)


If anyone was to say that they’d rather have Lodge Hill developed than Hoo St W, there is a very strong answer: If people start calling for protected sites to be built on, they risk getting the protected sites AND the non protected sites built on. They will have thrown away one of their key lines of defence.

Promoter of this website

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Please note that this website is owned by George Crozer of Woodlands High Halstow Kent ME3 8SX telephone number 07711432598 and is being used to promote RON SANDS as an independent candidate in the Medway local elections to be held on 2nd May 2019.

I think Ron is an ideal Candidate to represent Hoo Peninsula Ward on Medway Council. He will certianly have my vote!

George

Four Elms

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Medway currently has four Air Quality Management Areas which exceed the annual objective for nitrogen dioxide (a pollutant present in vehicle exhaust emissions).

The air quality management areas are:

  • Central Medway
  • Pier Road, Gillingham
  • High Street, Rainham
  • Medway Four Elms Hill,

Four Elms Hill was declared a new Air Quality Management Area in October 2017.

We are now in 2019 and predatory development rampant  at Chattenden, Hoo and High Halstow. There is a massive increase in warehousing at Kingsnorth with a reliance on heavy traffic all passing through Four Elms. The Council is now asking residents to help it to solve an air pollution problem the Council themselves have been complicit in creating.

In the meantime those of us that live in or pass through Four Elms continue to be exposed to exhaust emissions from vehicle traffic. The children of Chattenden  and the children of the many new unsuspecting families moving into new homes close to Four Elms are being made to walk to school across this very dangerous major dual carriage way using the now two designated pedestrian crossings right at the epicentre of the air quality management area problem.

The Royal College of Physicians reports that around 40,00people die from pollution each year in the UK.

 

So what do we demand our council does? 

I believe we should at all cost,

 

  1. Stop housing development in and around the Air Quality Management Area.

 

  1. Stop the madness of building a Rural Town at Hoo around and either side of a major dual carriageway.

The Pentagon

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Mountbatten House has a floor area of approximately 84,000 square feet with 110 car parking spaces. Medway Council bought back the lease of the Pentagon, which includes Mountbatten House for 45 million pounds. They expect to get an annual income of one million pounds.

In 2016 Andrew Mackness had a vision for Mountbatten House to turn it into housing ( probably expensive apartments) with a hotel and rooftop bar which is probably the type of vanity project that the current council would like. Medway needs to start thinking of it’s current residents. This is the perfect opportunity to begin regenerating the centre of Chatham and to help solve it’s housing crisis. With the average 1 bedroom apartment being 495 square feet this building could have about 150 homes depending on corridor layouts. With government grants these could be managed social housing for local residents. Not only would the council get an income from rents and council tax but local businesses would benefit from more customers. There could also be more cultural activities in the Pentagon.

 

150 homes may not be a lot, but more developments like this in regenerated Chatham and Gillingham town centres, together with utilising existing empty properties, would make a significant contribution to Medway’s housing policy. There would be less need for car travel and it would also mean a lot less cars polluting the Hoo Peninsula.

Affordable Homes in Rural Communities

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In 2018 the government provided £8.5 million of resource support so Parishes can allocate land for homes sold or rented at a discount.

Has the time come for a discussion about Parish and Community led development Projects? Community lead affordable housing projects are intended to empower communities regardless of size to commission their own homes to meet local needs.

Rural housing is much more than just a roof over a family’s head and we all know how important that is.  Making housing affordable is key for rural workforces and therefore important to the rural economy.

Homes identified under the scheme can be for purchase or rent.

My own personal choice would be rental ensuring homes would remain available indefinitely for those in most need from the local community.

Parish Councils and local communities have a major role to play in identifying suitable sites and agreeing the criteria for allocation of the resulting homes.

If elected by the people of the Peninsula within the first year of my office I would engage with Parish Councils, local social services and the  English Rural Housing Association to carry out a housing needs survey and a call for sites.

Low level crime

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Ignore low level crime and crooks will think they can GETAWAY with it.

Many residents on the Peninsula have been in touch in recent months to raise concerns about anti-social behaviour in our villages and the lack of police support to deal with it.

So called low level crime is not low level by those of us affected by it. All crime is unacceptable for residents and issues need to be addressed quickly so that members of our community feel safe  and not intimidated or afraid to go out. Our rural communities should not be left to fend for themselves. Responses by police to emergency calls have been slow and currently we only have two Police Community Support Officers for the whole Peninsula. One of my first priorities if elected will be to call the police commissioner and our local MP  to account and demand the policing team come up with a new robust strategy  for policing on the Peninsula.

Whilst a lack of proper police funding from central government can be attributed to some of these problems Police still have the power to stop crime through prevention.​ I believe if you don’t take care of the low level crime happening  every day criminals will think they can get away with much more..

Suspect Ecology

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Update
Last Friday I received a phone call from a very upset lady in Chattenden. She was devastated that developers working on the Old Arethusa site were filling in an ancient pond renowned for its Frogs and Toads that many of us enjoyed over the years and have taken our children to visit  time after time.  

Cllr Jean Fray and I met with the developers on site and managed to  temporarily halt the filling.  We are now having discussions with the developer and the planning dept.

I believe that the Ecological surveys being undertaken by developers are lacking and short cuts are common place. The statutory authority require all necessary ecological surveys to be complete before the granting of planning permission.  However, some ecological surveys can only be undertaken at specific times of the year.  This seasonality means that to be done properly the survey should be carried out over one complete season at the very least. This would ensure  wildlife, flora and fauna are fully  understood and the necessary protection applied .

I believe there is  a case for Parish Councils having their own expert to carry out ecological inspections or a representative officer who can inform surveys of the local wildlife knowledge.

We have a duty to protect our environment and natural heritage for the benefit of future generations. So much has been lost already.

Research by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London found that the number of wild animals on earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food and development in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats,  

The steep decline of animal, fish and bird numbers was calculated by analysing 10,000 different populations, covering 3,000 species in total. This data was then, for the first time, used to create a representative “Living Planet Index” (LPI), reflecting the state of all 45,000 known vertebrates

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Netting Hedgerows

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Make ‘netting’ hedgerows to prevent birds from nesting a criminal offence.

Developers, and other interested parties are circumventing laws protecting birds by ‘netting’ hedgerows to prevent birds from nesting.

This facilitates the uprooting of hedgerows which aid biodiversity and provide the only remaining nesting sites for birds, whose numbers are in sharp decline.

More details

‘Netting’ hedgerows threatens declining species of birds, presents a danger by entrapment to wildlife, and produces large amounts of plastic waste.

This is how Jeremy Vine responded to reports of ‘netting’ in preparation for hedgerow removal:

This is how the human race ends, everybody.

We cover hedges with nets.
We get permission to build flats because there are no birds.
Then we live in the flats and feel pleased that no birdsong wakes us in the morning.
Then we die.

SIGN the petition now 

Amazon Lorries

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KMTV afforded me the opportunity today to comment on the growing problem that deliveries to and from the new Amazon site are causing.

I find it inconceivable that our new multi million pound  Amazon facility is restricting lorries from entering their site until they fit into a predetermined arrival window. Lorries are made to wait at random unplanned locations close to the site without a care for the welfare of the drivers.

Today I witnessed for myself the disruption and “mess” this is causing.  How crops in fields close to the site could be classified as unfit for human consumption because of the proliferation  of human excrement. How lorries parked for extended periods with engines still running are adding to  the already dangerous levels of atmospheric pollution.

We have been led to believe that this multi National Company would have positive impact on Hoo and the Peninsula as a whole. The opposite is nearer the truth.

I call on Amazon to take control of this unacceptable situation, clean up the mess and get a proper grip of the situation. I ask Medway Council why have they allowed this to happen?

Watch the article on KMTV