I’m very worried about proposals to locate waste wood processing and concrete block production facilities at the port of Ramsgate. The proposals have been made by the O’Regan Group. According to the company check website, DueDil, the group doesn’t appear to be financially robust. Most of the companies within the organisation have negative financial valuations, or are dormant with no recent trading history and no accounts submitted. Although it’s very worrying that an organisation which intends to develop a large industrial processing facility at Ramsgate Port, does not appear to have much money, my foremost concern is the impact that these activities might have upon the town and its residents. According to documents produced by the O’Regan Group their concrete block manufacturing and waste wood processing operations will take up about one third of the port area. The production of concrete blocks will require the delivery by sea of vast quantities of aggregates which will be stock piled in large slag heaps several metres high. The waste wood processing plant will be supplied by road creating massive mountains of pallets etc. The operations are likely to generate considerable noise and dust, which, considering the close proximity of residential areas of Ramsgate to the Port, could be very
problematic. There will also be a significant increase in lorry movements to and from the port resulting from the O’Regan operation and an elevated risk of fire due the vast quantities of flammable wood which will be stored at the port. Last but not least, what impact will these operations have on the quality of our bathing waters and beaches and on the nearby nature conservancy and scientific interest sites?
I was taken aback to learn that O’Regan’s proposals are being piloted through the council system by 2 former, and very senior TDC planning managers. Not that I am suggesting anything untoward or improper, but I am mindful of comments made by anti-corruption charity Transparency International, in their 2013 publication, Corruption in UK Local Government, which warn of the possibility that former council officers who are now working for the private sector “might influence his or her former colleagues in a way that favours the company” the former officer is representing. Because this proposals is likely to subject to planning permission and because O’Regan’s agents were formerly very senior planning officers, this an application which must be managed with the fullest transparency and sensitivity.
Finally, I have long argued, that the future of Ramsgate Port is best served by its transformation into a modern marina. Newhaven, Brighton and Eastbourne marinas have all demonstrated that sustainable and very successful businesses can be developed by investing in leisure based marine activities. They have created hundreds of local jobs and many opportunities for local business. In my opinion developing Ramsgate Port into a modern marina, rather than a noisy, dusty and potentially polluting industrial facility, is the best solution to regenerating the local economy, creating jobs and attracting more visitors.
I'm sure I will be saying a lot more about this wrongheaded plan in the next few weeks.