There is not one, there is not two or even three, but seven clumps of Japanese Knotweed that we have photographed so far on Princes Parade. The clumps range in size from a rug, through to the size of a double garage. And they are nicely situated across the 7 hectare site (17.29 acres).
In May we informed a prominent campaigner who has been busying themselves collecting EIR’s for the Save Princes Parade Team and began photographing them. We note as of yesterday (16th Aug 17) an eagle eyed dog walker posted a picture of one such clump to Facebook (first image). Well, here are a few more images from across the Princes Parade site, photographed between May & August 2017.
Now let’s make it very clear, it may not stop the development of Princes Parade, but it will slow it down and add unforeseen costs to the project.
Japanese Knotweed is regulated by several pieces of legislation, the main being:
The Wildlife and Countryside Act (as amended) 1981
The Environmental Protection Act 1990
The Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991
This puts a duty of care on the landowner – Shepway District Council (SDC) – with Japanese Knotweed infestations to be proactive in the control and eradication of it. Planning permission will also generally be refused without an eradication programme in place for the infestation.
Little did you know that the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 states that failure to act” i.e. property owners not controlling Japanese knotweed where it affects the quality of life of those in the community could find themselves being served with a Community Protection Notice. Failure to comply with the Community Protection Notice could result in a criminal offence and large fines (up to £2,500 for individuals and £20,000 for organisations). SDC with an ASBO, that would be quite something, wouldn’t you agree?
We note that SDC have employed a “Spin Doctor” by the name of Edwards Harvey to promote the Princes Parade Development on Facebook. So far SDC have paid them:
Yes, £63,701 worth of spin, spin, spin paid with local taxpayers money. A prominent Campaigner has asked “how can it be right that Shepway is using council tax to pay for this propaganda? Where is the transparency? And given that they are both landowner and planning authority how can it be right that they can put something this biased in the public domain?”
We have checked on Contracts Finder, but have found no such contract awarded to Edwards Harvey. Perhaps this is one of those contracts that by passed normal procurement procedures.
Now back in February SDC are on the record when asked if there was Japanese Knotweed on Princes Parade and what steps they had taken to eradicate it between 2006 – 2016, the response SDC gave was:
“The council has not taken any steps to manage, control or eradicate Japanese Knotweed on Princes Parade – the plant has not occurred there during the period mentioned” The period mentioned was 2006 – 2016.
Well, we hate to rain on SDC’s bonfire, but there are in fact seven sizeable clumps as we said early. SDC really should get out of the gym and onto the site, that way they can save themselves a few pounds in money and weight
The avid FoI and EIR members of the Save Princes Parade Team have found SDC have all too often cited“Commercial confidentiality” (FoI) or Confidentiality of commercial or industrial information (EIR) as a reason for not disclosing the information necessary to assess contract content – and services, relating to Princes Parade. Responsiveness, transparency, oversight and scrutiny are key elements of healthy local democracy – by citing “confidentiality” democracy and participation is lessened for those most directly affected. Only the tenacity, persistence and perseverance of those committed to saving Princes Parade has got us all where we are currently. All we wish to say to them is:
Keep Calm, Carry On and Thank You.
The Shepwayvox Team