Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Ramsgate - Brett’s Kicked in the Aggregates

Environmental watchdog, Natural England have dealt, what might be,  a fatal body blow to Brett Aggregates plans to expand their operation at  Ramsgate Port to include a large aggregate washing  and crushing plant.

In a letter to Kent Council Planning Officer James Bickle,  Natural England says that “your authority does not currently have enough information to robustly conclude that the applicants proposals will not have a significant impact on any of the internationally and nationally important nature conservation sites  nearby”.

The letter goes on to request that  Kent County Council secures  “additional information” about noise pollution levels which might be generated from the proposed  operations at the Brett site  and the impact that this might have on bird species living in the area. The letter also expresses concerns about dust pollution from Brett’s existing and proposed operations at the port saying that “we have been provided with photos of the current operations which appear to show large piles of material which are unprotected by bunds or bays”  and that “there is the potential for dust generation from the (new) proposals”. Natural England insists that before approving the proposals KCC obtains clarity about improvement  on current and future dust control practices from Brett’s.

In a further setback, Natural England also questions whether or not Brett’s existing operation was ever properly approved by Thanet Council and KCC. They state that the case papers  for Brett’s current application include a communication dated  28 May 2010 which “makes reference to the Council Harbour Master (presumably from Thanet District Council) making a report to English Nature (one of the predecessor bodies to Natural England) regarding the batching plant proposal. Unfortunately I can find no record of this report in our files, nor any other correspondence relating to the batching plant. I am therefore unable to provide a view as to whether or not Natural England was appropriately consulted on the batching plant, nor whether we had any concerns with regards to its potential impacts on the natural environment”.
This is an issue which I brought to the attention of Natural England last week and also raised with KCC. Both organisations  say that they have no record of the Harbourmaster’s report. I also submitted a Freedom of Information request to Thanet Council last week requesting a copy of the Harbour Master’s report. I somehow get the feeling that it won’t be located.

In any event as I wrote on my blog on 18th October “I cannot believe that it was appropriate for Thanet Council to have delegated the task of writing a “report to English Nature with regard to the batching plant” to its Habourmaster. The Ramsgate Port  Habourmaster is not qualified in marine environmental science. It is my opinion that he is not competent to produce a report on the environmental impact of a concrete batching plant upon the protected marine habitats adjacent and close to the port. I’m astounded that Thanet Council’s then Head of Major Developments, Doug Brown, seemed happy to accept a report from an  unqualified person as “confirmation of how environmental implications (relating to the Brett concrete batching plant)  were addressed”. However, this is same Doug Brown who,  after leaving TDC, teamed up with his  former boss and ex-Director of TDC Planning, Brian White, to  advise O’Regan’s on their unsuccessful application to set up a concrete block manufactory at Ramsgate  Port.

The right thing to have done in 2010 would have been for Thanet Council and Kent County Council to have insisted that a proper independent environmental impact assessment of Brett’s concrete batching plant be carried out by a suitably qualified marine environment protection expert and that this report would have then been sent to English Nature for them to decide if Ramsgate port was a suitable location for an industrial operation such as this.  KCC and TDC should also have insisted that such a report be produced at Brett’s expense, rather than what appears to have been a highly irregular and  improper freebie from an unqualified council employee. I will be contacting Thanet Council, KCC  and English Nature to find out exactly what happened in 2010 because from where I’m  standing it looks as though  the existing operation may well be environmentally compromised, which will of course have implications  for Bretts new proposals”.

So we now have situation whereby Natural England is far from happy with both Brett’s existing and proposed operations at Ramsgate Port and the possibility that they had, or are  likely to have, environmentally damaging implications on the  internationally and nationally important nature conservation sites close to the port. Today I have already publically called upon council leader Chris Wells as the port landlord  not to permit the Brett’s proposals to go ahead. I repeat this request again and go further – that he arrange a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the setting up of Brett’s concrete batching operations at the port in 2010 and any environmental impact assessment which may have taken place at the time, or before, including the Harbour Master report which was alleged to have been produced.  Council Leader Wells should also insist that notwithstanding any previous reports, there should also be a full and proper environmental impact assessment conducted by suitably qualified experts into Brett’s current operations produced at Brett’s expense. If the  report finds that current operations are environmentally damaging then Brett’s lease at the port should be terminated. This is what most people in Ramsgate would want and it’s the right thing to do.


  1. I agree with your post and your conclusions, Ian. On Facebook, Chris Wells suggested that there was no impact on tourism in Ramsgate as a result of the plans to extend the scope of Bretts cement aggregates, which seemed very doubtful in itself. Of course, there is a huge environmental impact to contemplate, which has to be addressed. TDC and KCC has been found lacking in trying to get this done without the knowledge of the residents it affects. This is not the new transparent local government we were promised.

  2. Well said about Wells Ian - why is he silent? And which TDc councilors - if any - approved Brett?

  3. Why hasn't Wells resigned over Manston?