Sunday, 29 September 2013

Ramsgate Shanty Town Shit Camera and Ferrygate

Home after a great night at Shanty Town with Mrs D. But the filming didn't work. Still a grand night . Lovely people. Good music and lots of fun and a picture of Transeuropa Ferries on the way to home


Saturday, 28 September 2013

Who's Going to Ramsgate Shanty Town Tonight?

Heading for Ramsgate Shanty Town tonight with Mrs D. Hope to see you there.

Here's Max Romeo to get you in the mood!

CPRE Protect Kent Opposes Gas Drilling Applications

Protect Kent (The Kent Branch of CPRE), Queens Head House, Ashford Road, Charing, Ashford Kent TN27 0AD, Telephone: 01233 714544
Press Release:
Fracking in Kent? The Public Say No!
Jamie Weir, PR & Events Manager, Protect Kent 
Friday 27th September 2013
Almost 300 concerned members of the public crowded in to Sheperdswell village hall on Wednesday night to listen to CPRE Protect Kent’s views on the 3 applications for exploratory boreholes in Dover district. CPRE Protect Kent Chairman Richard Knox-Johnston introduced the organisations views and briefed the crowd on the serious concerns that CPRE Protect Kent has with the test boreholes being drilled, whilst the Chairman of our Environment Committee, Graham Warren, gave a technical description of the geology of the area and the potential impact that drilling may have on Kent’s water resources.  CPRE Protect Kent’s experts believe that in an already water-stressed area of the country, the prospect of loss or contamination of water resources that are already heavily committed is too great a risk and that the geological uncertainties of the Kent coal fields remain too great a hazard

Members of the public were given the opportunity to ask questions of the CPRE experts in attendance, whilst the local MP Charlie Elphicke also attended to hear the views of the public and to answer questions. He echoed the concerns raised by Protect Kent over the particular risks of gas exploration in this location and announced that he would raise these concerns with Ministers.
CPRE Protect Kent has a number of serious concerns about test boreholes being drilled in these rural areas, not least the landscape and traffic implications whilst our Environment Committee has raised serious concerns regarding the potential for groundwater contamination due to the particular formation of geological layers and fault lines beneath the chalk.
CPRE Protect Kent Chairman Richard Knox-Johnston said:
“There is considerable concern amongst those in the area about this drilling operation, the way in which it needs to be regulated and the unseemly speed with which the planning application is being processed. We are also concerned by the many impacts these developments will have on the tranquil landscapes of the Dover district. We would ask all members of the public who are concerned by these developments to respond to the Kent County Council planning applications to ensure that their voice is heard.”
1.To access the planning applications, please follow the links below:
2. CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, is a charity which promotes the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of rural England. We advocate positive solutions for the long-term future of the countryside. Founded in 1926, we have 60,000 supporters and a branch in every county. President: Sir Andrew Motion. Patron: Her Majesty The Queen.
3. Protect Kent (The Kent Branch of CPRE) is one of the charity’s largest county groups, with more than 3,000 supporters, 12 district groups and four special-interest groups, which focus on transport, planning, historic buildings and the environment.
4. Protect Kent (The Kent Branch of CPRE) exists to promote the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of rural England by encouraging the sustainable use of land and other natural resources in town and country.
5. Registered office: Queens Head House, Ashford Road, Charing, Ashford, Kent TN27 0AD, Telephone: 01233 714540, or, email: A company limited by guarantee, registered in England number 4335730, registered charity number 1092012.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Shepherdswell People Power

Last night I went to  a public meeting at  Shepherdswell  Parish Hall to discuss a planning application for exploratory drilling for shale and coal  bed  methane gas just outside the village. I was amazed how many people were there. By my estimation about 200. It was standing room only and the back doors had to be opened to let in fresh air and provide more standing  room. The meeting was organised by the Campaign to Protect Rural England - a big thank you to CPRE for doing something which KCC and the Environment Agency should have done weeks ago!

CPRE Hydrologist, Graham Warren, explained how exploring for, or extracting,  gas  from the former East Kent  coalfield area was fraught with  risk, especially the  danger of polluting the East Kent chalk aquifer which provides water for tens-of-thousands of homes in Kent. He talked about the danger of atmospheric pollution from the drilling operation and the problems associated with disposing of  hundreds of thousands of gallons of polluted water which will be brought to the surface by drilling. He then explained that the gas bearing seams are located in an area of geological faults caused by seismic activity. He said it was not a clever idea to drill thousands of metres below the ground in such an area  as  it might well lead to fresh seismic events.

I must say, that whenever I have previously been to complex scientific or technical presentations  I, and others in the audience, have nodded off, begun to doodle on our notepads, started to daydream, raised eyebrows and indicated boredom to our neighbours or all of the above. But not last night!   Mr Graham Warren  transfixed all 200 souls in that room. He was heard in riveted silence and I am sure that more once I heard collective intakes of breath when he described  some of the more awful consequences that might arise from the drilling.

So powerful was Mr Graham Warren's contribution that local Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke, did a rapid U-Turn on his position on unconventional gas exploration and extraction. less than a week ago in an interview on BBC Radio Kent Elphicke was extolling the virtues of fracking and accusing  CPRE as being muddled in their approach to unconventional gas extraction. But last night, after listening to Mr Warren he told the meeting that he was now totally opposed to uncovential gas extraction on his patch. 

But perhaps it was not entirely Mr Warren's powers  of persuasion that brought about this U-Turn, but rather  the result of Mr Elphicke asking for a show of hands for and against drilling in East Kent. When at least 95% of the audience raised their hands against drilling Mr Elphicke's fence sitting suddenly stopped. After all 2015 is not long way off!

But seriously, last night was one of the finest examples I had seen, in a long time, of a community getting its act together and influencing the decision makers. There is now a group in Shepherdswell campaigning to oppose the planning applications and last night membership of that group exploded as people queued up to give their contact details to the organisers. I hope that the people of Shepherdswell will inspire residents of  nearby Guston and Tilmanstone who face similar planning applications to begin to organise themselves as well. After seeing for myself a community in action I am convinced that drilling in East Kent will be defeated.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Thanet Ferrygate Incompetent Fools ?

I wrote to Thanet Council's Chief Executive asking why, in her role as the Council's Section 151 Officer (finance officer),  she had failed to ensure that   the financial interest of the Council had been secured  though a charge on the assets of Trasnseuropa  Ferries should this company fail to pay back the £3.3 million fees and charges it owed to the Council. 

Ostend Port and the fuel suppliers felt that having Transeuropa's debts secured against the failing ferry operators assets was a sensible and prudential thing to do.  By doing this they were able to force the sale of  Transeuropa's ferry the Gardenia and share in the 750,000 euros raised at auction  last week.

Thanet Council, obviously had better ideas than Ostend Port and the  fuel suppliers, but they  refused to share them with me. Rather than provide an answer to my enquiry, the Chief Executive delegated the  response to another officer who e-mailed me saying that the "Council confirms that  it holds relevant information but declines to disclose that information to you". The letter writer went on to quote the Freedom of Information Act to justify why The Chief Executive had not been open, transparent and accountable about her role in the management of this appalling , secretive gamble with £3.3 million public money which went horribly wrong.

Incredible as it may seem, at the same time that TDC officers denied my request for information about debt security,  they had actually provided journalist from Kent Online, who were asking for same information  as me, with a press statement detailing why the Council failed to securitise its £3.3 million debt. So it would now appear that senior officers of Thanet District Council are free to withhold information from elected councillors, but provide that same information to the press!  This is an extremely sad day for local democracy in Thanet.

But it gets worse! Let's have a look at the reasons why the Section 151 Officer decided  that there was no reason to mitigate financial loss by securing a charge on Transeuropa's assets. Well if Kent Online is to be believed this decision was made because the Council as port authority has a legal right  "to seize Transeuropa assets in the port to cover any debts" therefore  "a secured status was not sought at the time the (debt deferral) arrangement was set up". So why did Ostend Port who has similar rights to Ramsgate Port insist on having additional security through charges on Transeuropa's assets. Perhaps because ferries are able to move from A to B making it easy for them to escape the clutches of unsecured creditors such as TDC.

But would Thanet  have ever dared to exercise its right to seize Transeuropa's assets to cover the debt?  Apparently not! When the debt stood at £1million they did not move to seize Transeuropa's assets. When the debt stood at £2million they did not move to seize Trasnseuropa's assets. When the debt approached  £3million and Transeuropa and its erstwhile Italian  investors had, despite their agreement to do so, not paid a penny in re-payments for over 6 months, the Council still unbelievably refused  to seize it assets! In fact the Council is on record as saying "seizing the vessel at this time would have sent Transeuropa into liquidation". This can only mean that the Council was happy to stand by and let the debt grow bigger and bigger and gamble with more and more of your money without taking any action to safeguard its financial interests.  Where would it have ended? A secret  debt of £4, £5 or even £6miillion  paid for by you!

What sort of financial management is  this? I've said it before and I'll say it again, the Transeuropa Ferry issue is a major public scandal. Senior politicians and mangers have, in my opinion, grossly mis-managed pubic money. There should be a full independent investigation into this scandal and some prominent careers should be swiftly and robustly ended. Sadly Labour and Conservative party councillors have spinelessly followed the orders of their party whips like so many  frightened sheep and voted to cover up this scandal.

But I remain confident that the truth will eventually come out. The District Auditor has contacted me to tell me that he is still investigating my complaints about the Transeuropa scandal and hopes to advise me of his findings by November. I am waiting for the Information Commissioner to get back to me about having access to all the secret Transeuropa papers. If he agrees I will publish them so you can make own minds up about what happened

I must say I am becoming increasingly frustrated by the appallingly bad political and managerial culture at Thanet District Council. It reminds  of the political  corruption and dishonesty of 1930s Chicago City Hall. Thankfully 2015 is not far away and I sincerely hope that the good people of Thanet will take that opportunity to rid themselves of this thoroughly rotten political regime and some of its less than inspiring civil servants .

Here's the Kent On Line article

Monday, 23 September 2013

Kent County Council Breaks Planning Rules

This post is about exploratory drilling for shale and coal bed methane gas in the former Kent Coalfield.  Why would I write about something that does not seem to be related to Thanet? Simple, because these planning applications involve test drilling, possibly leading to gas extraction and maybe fracking, in the middle of the chalk aquifer which provides the people of Thanet (and many other areas) with their water. This could  become a major issue for Thanet in the next few months

22 September
East Kent Gas Drilling Applications - KCC Breaks the Rules

Campaigners against exploratory shale and coal bed methane gas drilling at Guston, Tilmanstone and Shepherdswell have accused Kent County Council of breaking planning rules and best practice (1).

In a letter to KCC Planning boss, Sharon Thompson, East Kent Against Fracking supporter and Thanet Green Party Councillor, Ian Driver, accuses officers of:

  • failing to ensure that the drilling company, Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd,  organised public meetings with residents of the three villages to discuss the applications and answer questions;
  • failing to advertise the planning applications in local newspapers;
  • failing to notify all village residents about the applications, rather than just those living in the immediate neighbourhood of the proposed drilling site;
  • failing to organise village public meetings at which residents could find out how to object to the applications;
  • failing  to provide parish, district and county councillors with technical briefings on the three applications.
Said Driver: “These applications are extremely controversial and have potentially life-changing implications for local residents.  KCC and the Local Government Association have devised special rules for consulting with the public and briefing councillors about such applications. But it seems to me that the planners have torn up the rule book. They have not briefed the relevant parish, district or county councillors and they have failed to properly inform and consult with the people of Guston, Tilmanstone and Shepherdswell.”

Shepherdswell resident Pamela Mudge-Wood said: “I heard nothing from the developers or KCC about this application. No letters have been sent to me and no public meetings organised by KCC or Coastal Oil and Gas. I found out about the applications from Facebook and was so worried that I started leafleting  Shepherdswell myself. We now have a small group of about 20 residents who are beginning to campaign against the applications.”

Chair of East Kent Against Fracking Rosemary Rechter said: “KCCs management of these applications has been absolutely appalling. Their failure to follow the rules means that local people are being denied their democratic rights to make informed comments about extremely important issues in their villages.”
Driver is now calling upon KCC to terminate the “fatally flawed” consultation process and re-start it, allowing residents more time to understand and comment on these complex applications and providing councillors with technical briefing sessions. If KCC fails to do this, Driver says that he will complain to the Local Government Ombudsman.

In a separate development, countryside charity CPRE-Protect Kent will be holding a public meeting at Shepherdswell Village Hall on 25th September at 7.00pm to discuss the applications.
For more information contact Councillor Ian Driver on 07866588766

(1)  Kent Minerals and Waste Development Framework Statement of Public Involvement 2011 can be found at

 Local Government Association Probity in Planning 2010 p7

 Text of Ian Driver’s letter to Sharon Thompson

Dear Ms Thompson

I am writing to express my concern about the management of the consultation process for the exploratory gas drilling planning applications at Guston, Tilmanstone and Shepherdswell.

It is my view that the Planning Authority has failed to adhere to its own guidance as set out in the Kent Minerals and Waste Development Framework Statement of Public Involvement 2011. This failure is of a sufficiently serious magnitude to justify the termination of the current consultation process and for you to begin a new one, which accords more fully with the Statement.
According to Paragraph 4.2 and Policy 6 of the Statement of Public Involvement, your department must encourage “applicants of potentially controversial proposals to engage with the relevant communities as early as possible and subsequently demonstrate how they have responded to the issues raised”.

I am sure you will agree that these applications are extremely controversial, but I am unaware that Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd have engaged, to any meaningful degree, with the local communities concerned. To the best of my knowledge, this company has not set up public meetings at Guston, Tilmanstone or Shepherdswell at which they have presented  their plans to residents, answered questions and taken into account any comments or proposals.
I would be grateful if you could provide me with evidence (e-mails, meeting records etc) that your officers made genuine efforts to implement this policy. Please provide me with evidence (e-mails, meeting records etc.) of how your officers managed any resistance or refusal by the applicant to engage with the communities concerned.

According to KCC’s Planning website, a notice of the planning applications was published in the Kent on Sunday newspaper on 15.09.2013. Policy 7 and Para 4.4.1 of the Statement of Public Involvement requires that the application is published in local newspaper(s).  The editorial of Kent on Sunday on 21st September described itself as a “county newspaper” and Wikipedia describes Kent on Sunday as a “regional newspaper”.
It would therefore appear that in placing the planning notice in Kent on Sunday on 15th September you have acted contrary to your Statement of Public Involvement, which requires the notice to be published in a local newspaper(s). Could you please advise me whether any notices of application have been published in local newspapers and, if so, in which publications. If such notices were published after the 15th September, then I assume that you will alter the consultation timetable accordingly.

Paragraph 4.4.9 of the Statement of Public Involvement states that, depending upon the nature of a planning applicant, you may sometimes exceed statutory consultation requirement by notifying all local residents rather than just adjoining neighbours of a planning application. I would argue that the controversial nature of the applications at Guston, Shepherdswell and Tilmanstone merit the application of this discretionary power. Please provide me with evidence (e-mails, meeting notes etc) to demonstrate that consideration was given to notifying all local residents about these applications and evidence as to why it was decided not to do this.
Para 4.5.5 of the Statement of Public Involvement states that in the case of controversial applications, or applications which have a high level of interest from the local community, a “public meeting may be arranged”. I am sure you will agree that these three applications are extremely controversial but I am unaware of your having made any arrangements to hold public meetings at Guston, Shepherdswell or Tilmanstone. Could you please inform me whether it is your intention to hold public meetings at each of these locations?

Even if you do, belatedly, decide to hold public meetings, I feel that the time required to organise them and notify residents means that they will be held very close to the consultation deadline, which will be extremely unfair to residents.     

Finally, test drilling for gas is a very complex and technical issue. I am very surprised therefore that the Planning Authority appears to have failed to provide democratically elected consultees and decision makers, at parish, district and county level, with any background briefing or training so that they can make informed comment on behalf of their constituents.
I was at the Shepherdswell Parish Council meeting last week and no planning officer was present to provide advice to councillors. I understand that no planning officer was present at the Guston or Tilmanstone  Parish Council meetings either. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, all 3 parish councils have decided not to make formal comment to KCC about these applications because they feel that the information provided by KCC has been insufficient.

The Local Government Association, of which KCC is a member, recommends in its Guide for New Councillors 2013-14 and its 2010 publication, Probity in Planning, that because planning is a complex and changing area, councillors must be specially trained and that this training should be supplemented with special briefing sessions on planning issues which may be technical or controversial, such as those at Guston, Shepherdswell or Tilmanstone.
I have found no evidence to demonstrate that KCC, in partnership with Dover District Council, have made any effort whatsoever to provide parish, district or county councillors with special briefings to help them understand the issues involved before they make formal comments about, or decisions on, these applications.

I am extremely disappointed that the Planning Authority appears, in relation to these three applications, to have clearly disregarded its own guidance on public involvement in the planning process and to have ignored the advice of LGA about providing training and briefing sessions for councillors commenting or deciding on complex planning issues. This is particularly worrying when the nature of the three applications concerned is taken into account.

I trust that, in light of my comments, you will now begin a new and proper consultation process and initiate a programme of councillor briefings, otherwise I will have no option but to take this matter to the Local Government Ombudsman on the grounds of maladministration and injustice.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely
Councillor Ian Driver
The Green Party
Thanet istrict Council 


Sunday, 22 September 2013

Thanet Council Open, Transparent, Backside Watchers

It's perfectly reasonable for an elected councillor to ask to see documents related  to  the  secret deal with Transeuropa Ferries which  has cost Thanet taxpayers £3.3. million. It's perfectly reasonable for an elected councillor to ask the Council why it did not seek security on the £3.3 million debt and what action it proposes to take to recover taxpayers money.

Unfortunately the Council's Regulatory Manager does not see it that way and continues to refuse my requests to see the key documents relating to this scandal. Would I be wrong to speculate that the Council's  refusal to open the filing cabinet  might possibly be something to do with corporate and political backside watching? Is it  conceivable that the Council do not want to reveal information which might show how political bosses  from the Tory and Labour groups and senior council officers  might have grossly mismanaged their relationship the Transeuropa Ferries leading to the accumulation of a massive secret debt?  Would it be wrong to fantasise that the reason the Council does not wish to talk about debt recovery plans is because it has no plans and knows it is unable to get back of penny of the £3.3 million it has secretly gambled?  Is it remotely possible that if the documents about Transeuropa Ferries were  to be released, they could seriously embarrass some very important people and perhaps prematurely end some careers?

Of course not!  This is clearly  groundless speculation on my part, which cannot possibly  be true.  Everybody knows that Thanet Council is a professionally run organisation, with political leaders and senior officers working tirelessly  on behalf of local people to kick start Thanet's economy, secure inward investment and create jobs. Just look at Dreamland  and the Turner. Consider the jewel in Ramsgate's crown Pleasurama and the plans to open the port to another Transeuropa-style ferry company. This evidence clearly demonstrates that our political leaders and senior officers are not, as some people believe,  incompetent fools unfit to run Legoland.
But there again when I receive e-mails such as the one below I sometimes wonder about  all sorts of scenarios and possibilities. But who knows my complaint to the Information Commissioner might  soon be dealt with and the Regulatory Services Manager could be forced as John Lennon said to "Gimme Some Truth". The we shall see.

Dear Councillor Driver

I refer to your  e-mail of 6 September 2013  where you requested information about the steps being taken by the Council to  recover the Transeuropa debt and the nature of the  debt deferral  arrangements between the Council  and Transeuropa Ferries.  You also wrote  to the Chief Executive  on 10 September  concerning the recent auction of the Gardenia  where you raised  similar issues and so she has asked me to reply  to you on her behalf .

It is clear that you have made both these requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 . Consequently , in formulating a response I will take into account that any information disclosed  to  you  would, necessarily, enter the public domain.  In addition ,  much  of what you request, particularly in your e-mail  to  the Chief Executive,  is a  not actually  a request for information but a request explanation.  There is no right to an explanation so none will be forthcoming.

Formal Response -  Debt Recovery Steps

The  Council confirms that  it holds relevant information but declines to disclose that information to you

Relevant Exemption -  Section 43 Freedom of Information Act 2000 - Disclosure  would harm the  commercial interests of the  Council and therefore the public  interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure. -    Section 42 of the Freedom of Information Act 200- Some of the information is protected  by  legal privilege and  therefore the public  interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure

Formal Response -  Nature of Debt Deferral Agreement

The  Council confirms that  it holds relevant information but declines to disclose that information to you
Relevant Exemption -  Section 43 Freedom of Information Act 2000 -  Disclosure  would harm  the  commercial interests of the  Council and therefore the public  interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure.
You have the right to request an internal review of my decision or complain to the Information  Commissioner. However, the  Commissioner will expect you to exercise your right to an internal review  before accepting a complaint  from  you.
Yours sincerelyHarvey Patterson
Corporate & Regulatory Services Manager
Thanet District Council

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Thanet Council Ferry Stupid Gamble

After losing £3.3million of taxpayers money  in a secret  payments deferral deal with TransEuropa ferries, Thanet Council bosses, like gamblers desperate to recoup their losses, are having one last irresponsible punt at your  expense, to attract a new ferry service to Ramsgate.

According to a recent notice of tender the  Council is  "looking to re-establish a suitable ferry services as a priority at the Port of Ramsgate and any additional business associated with RoRo and port operations. The council invites fee bids for locating and delivering a suitable operator (freight/passenger/combination) to service the Port of Ramsgate to the near Continent.  It is our aspiration that this service should commence as soon as possible but no later than Summer 2014". 

 Confirming that the Council has indeed lost what remained of its Corporate marbles the  front page of the Maritime Journal quotes Harbour Master, Mr Brown, has saying Ramsgate is Port "who's time has come again". Well sorry Mr Brown, sorry Ms McGonigal and sorry Councillor Hart. Ramsgate is a port  which  never had and never will have "its time". The best it ever did was tick over on a life-support machine. And its now time to turn it off.

Ramsgate Port Run Down Needs TLC
Just look at the facts. Over £7 million in subsidies  from the fuel companies, Ostend Port and Thanet's disastorous secret £3.3 million gamble, failed to keep Traseuopa Ferries afloat. Before that the Sally Line service hit the rocks. Doesn't this tell us something? That there is simply no long-term sustainable future for a ferry service operating out of Ramsgate and goodness know the council tax payer of Thanet have paid dearly finding this out.

And why might that be? With due respect to Harbour Master Brown, his otherwise excellent article fails to mention that Ramsgate Port is a run down, ramshackle affair of a continental gateway  which needs many £millions to get it into a decent state. Where is this money going to come from? 

But the real issue  which no one appears to want  to talk about is our proximity  to  Euro Tunnel and Dover. How can Ramsgate compete  against these modern transport giants. Especially Dover which is investing more than £400million in updating its existing  infrastructure and building a brand new second ferry terminal. Honestly,  to see a future for Ramsgate Port  in the shadow of these infrastructure colossi is to believe that the world is flat. But what's that I hear - Ramsgate could become a niche port. Again that's nonsense. For niche read dodgy low quality operators managing a fleet of rust buckets who like pirates of old will rip you off. Sounds familiar?

 So come on Thanet Council stop being so Ferry stupid. The Port has amazing potential to become something special. A magnet for inward investment, job creation and a unique  opportunity to do something right  by Ramsgate. But that potential is not as a commercial ferry port, but more likely as a major leisure centre.  

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Fracking Coming Our Way?

I have joined the  campaign group East Kent Against Fracking which is opposing plans to explore for shale and coal bed methane gas in the former Kent coalfield at  sites near Tlimanstone, Shepherdswell, Guston and  Woodnesbourgh. If gas is found and extraction begins then its highly likely that fracking will take place. This should be very worrying for the people of Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Deal, and Thanet who depend upon the Chalk Aquifer which is located under the drilling sites for their water supply. Here is one of our recent press releases. For more information please visit The Green party is the only major political party to oppose fracking and the extraction of coal bed methane gas. I will be organising a public meeting in Thanet later in the year to discuss this issue. If you want to become involved in the campaign please e-mail on
Hundreds of people will be attending public meetings to discuss three controversial planning applications to allow exploratory drilling for coal and shale bed methane gas at the East Kent villages of Shepherdswell, Guston and Tilmanstone this week(1).
On Monday 17 September Tilmanstone Parish Council meets to discuss an application to drill on the village’s former colliery site. Neighbouring Eythorne Parish Council is expected to meet shortly to discuss this application. On Wednesday 18th September Shepherdswell Parish Council are meeting to consider an application for test drilling near the village. On Thursday 19th September, there is a village meeting at Guston to discuss a similar
application (2).  

Dover District Council will be discussing a motion calling for a full report on the implications of the planning applications at its meeting on 18th September(4). 
Protect Kent, an affiliate of the charity Campaign to Protect  Rural England (CPRE) has issued a statement expressing its concerns about the planning applications and will be holding a public meeting for residents of Guston, Shepherdswell and Tilmanstone on 25th September(3).

The applications have been submitted to Kent County Council by Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd, which already has permission to conduct exploratory gas drilling at nearby Woodnesborough.
Campaign group East Kent Against Fracking and the Kent Green Party oppose the applications. They argue that exploratory drilling could pollute the Chalk Aquifer, part of  which lies beneath the drilling sites and provides water for thousands of homes in Kent. They point out that additional vehicle movements and noise, as well as light pollution resulting from 24-hour drilling operations, will industrialise the East Kent countryside. If gas is discovered and permission granted for extraction, they warn that this may lead to full-blown fracking, which could well cause serious damage to the area.

Green Party Euro-MP and anti-fracking campaigner, Keith Taylor, will be visiting the Shepherdswell site and meeting local campaigners on the evening of Friday 20th September(5).
For further information contact Ian Driver on 07866588766

(1) The planning applications can be seen at

Coastal Oil and Gas already has KCC planning permission to conduct exploratory gas drilling at Woodnesborough near Sandwich. See:

(2) Tilmanstone Parish Council 16th September, Tilmanstone Village Hall 7pm. Contact Parish Clerk Mrs Cathy Skinner  01304 830200. Shepherdswell Parish Council Wednesday 18th September 7pm Shepherdswell Parish Hall. Contact Parish Clerk Steven Durbidge 01304 830242. Guston residents’ meeting Thursday 19th September Burgoyne Community Centre from 7.30pm CT15 5LY Parish Clerk Glynis Farthing

(3) Dover District Council meeting 6pm Wednesday 18th September will be discussing the following motion:
“This Council is concerned by the prospect of fracking and related drilling activity in the Dover District area and requests that a report is brought forward to the next meeting of this Council to inform the Council of the nature of the process, the potential impact on subsurface water resources and geological formations, the type and scale of the surface structures, and the impact of anti-fracking demonstrations in the light of recent experience in Sussex on the local communities and on the police."

(4)   CPRE Protect Kent pubic meeting Wednesday 25th September 7.15pm Shepherdswell Village Hall. CPRE statement on the planning applications can be seen here:

(5) Keith Taylor Green Party MEP will be visiting Shepherdswell and meeting local campaigners on Friday 20th September. Full details to be announced in separate media release soon.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Spacecraft Discovery finds Parallel Thanet Universe

This week the spaceship Discovery was reported to have left the solar system.  I understand NASSA has confirmed that the spaceship has found  two previously unknown parallel universes which are remarkably similar to Margate and Ramsgate.  The first universe appears to be developing into in a modern, space age,  seaside resort with lots of inter-galactical investment. The second is run down, unloved and dilapidated. a bit like the surface of Mars.
Discovery has just transmitted some pictures back to earth which I have reproduced below.  Need I say more. Beam me up Scotty!

Universe Margate 


Universe Ramsgate





Friday, 13 September 2013

Dover Live Animal Export Shame

Dover harbour 13 September see the last truck. Jammed full or what? Still the authorities  were happy to allow the truck to board the ferry. Shame on Dover Harbour Board. This cruel trade must be stopped

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Ramsgate Sheep Massacre First Anniversay

Today I attended a  gathering outside the now derelict Ramsgate Port to mark the first anniversary of the slaughter of 47 sheep. About 40 people were there. I still find it hard to believe that our so-called civilised society can treat the sentient beings with whom we share our world in such a cruel and barbaric way.

There is likely to be a shipment of animals leaving Dover tomorrow morning and I hope to be joining the protest. Thank goodness for the caring and compassionate people
who make a stand against this evil trade. I know many of them personally. They are not extremists, they are not fools. They are ordinary people who care about their world. I know how determined they are to stop this barbarity  ad I know they are right.

Thank goodness for the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming.

Shame on Dover Harbour Board for refusing to let the RSPCA observe the loading of the animals.