The Long Read: All is not what it seems as we slide slowly into the Jaws of Death

The Planning Committee which will meet for the first time in June, would do no better than looking at the newly released Land Use statistics from the Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government. They make for encouraging reading, especially for our district in Kent. Yet what with all the development proposed over the next 30 years, our Cllrs in our Chamber will need to be strong if they are to be the guardians of our environment.

A report by Herrington Consulting Ltd who undertook a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment for Folkestone & Hythe District Council and which has informed the Local Plan makes it clear 55% of the District is at or below sea level and in Flood Zone 3 area.  Yet Data released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, using Ordnance Survey data, says that only 43.4% of the land is in a Flood Zone 3 area. Which in simple terms means 38,254 acres of land is at risk of flooding. Most of this land is on Romney Marsh.

Screenshot from 2019-05-31 21-47-17

72% of the land or 63,462.6 acres is given over to agriculture in the district. This is the highest amount of land given over to agricultural in any district in Kent. 13.2% is given over to forest, open land & water or 11,635 acres. 2% is given over to parks for recreation meaning 1,763 acres are areas for football, walking the dog, playing cricket for example.  Four thousand six hundred and seventy one (4,671) acres or 5.3% of the 88,142.5 acres which makes up the district is covered in housing and gardens. That is equivalent to 2,655 football pitches. The other 6.4% of the land is given over to Industry & Commerce (0.1%), Roads (4.4%) etc.

However, the loss of 881 acres, or 1% of agricultural land to develop Otterpool Park  is insignificant to the likes of our Council and bedfellow Developer the Reuben Brothers and significant to others, who live inand around the potential development site.

Dover & Folkestone & Hythe Councils sit in the Dour region; which is the most water stressed region in the UK. Water is scarcer per person in the Dour Region than it is per person in Morocco or Egypt. Cllr Georgina Treloar (Green) at the Annual General Meeting on the 22nd May 2019 raised the issue of rising sea levels and scarcity of water.

Climate change is real and companies such as Affinity Water, the largest water only company in the UK, has built climate change into it’s business and environmental plan. It serves 160,000 customers across the Dover and Folkestone & Hythe Region which sit in the most water stressed area in the UK.

The Folkestone & Hythe local plan makes clear that our Council are bound to build 677 homes a year until 2037. To build these homes will need water and then a supply to them. The maths is simple. Residents per household for the Otterpool Park development so says the Developers Consultants, will be 2.4 persons. Times that by 10,000 homes equals 24,000 people. So it will be a town nearly the same size as Hythe. Now in AW’s business plans it’s predicted water demand over the next several decades in the region will rise due to population growth, more homes, and more businesses being drawn into the area by the prospect of gold, hidden in the development of Otterpool Park and the increase in economic activity.

Will the water be available to supply those needs, as the effects of climate change kick in. 2018 averasge global temperature was the fourth hottest year since records began, placing it behind 2016, 2017 and 2015.

Somewhere in the future approx 20/25 years it is predicted we will reach what is commonly known as the jaws of death – the point at which, unless we take action to change things, we will not have enough water to supply our needs.

AW abstract 90% of water supply from Chalk boreholes, with the remaining 10% supplied from the shallow gravel aquifer of the Dungeness peninsula.

The prospective Otterpool Park development is a 30 year project, if given the go ahead. The water needed to build Otterpool Park would be supplied by Affinity Water to the boundary of the site. The site would receive water from the Paddlesworth reservoir which has a capacity of 13.3 mega-litres, or just over five Olympic swimming pools.

Much has been made of the fact that Otterpool Park will be served by a reservoir  situated at Paddlesworth in the Otterpool Park park planning application, specifically the Water_Cycle_Study. Paddlesworth is 184 metres above sea leavel nestled in the North Downs, for obvious reasons, to serve an area, which is low lying,  within the District. According to the latest AW figures of December 2017, some 38,000 residents water supply is fed from this reservoir. Based on occupation figures of 24,000 people at Otterpool Park, together with the existing (2017) figure of 38,000 already being supplied, that means the combined population to be supplied will be   62,000 people – the size of Folkestone approx. All these people fed from one resevior at Paddlesworth.

If the climate keeps heating as is predicted there is no doubt in our minds that a desalination plant will be needed to feed water across the district between now and 2037. Cllr David Monk at the meeting at Hythe Bay school on the 12/9/17 admitted that a desalination plant could be a possibility. Further, an Environment Agency document -albeit it dated 2004 – it states at page 46 – Folkestone and Dover Water plan a small desalination plant at Hythe in 2019 and Southern Water propose the development of a desalination plant in the 2020s. It too was brought up in Parliament on the 13th July 2006 according to Hansard. And Albion Water who may well be responsible for water inside the boundary remain tight lipped about the possibility.

Based upon AW’s allowance of 155 lpd per person, the reservoir would have to supply 9.61 megalitres of potable water each and every day. Even if we assume that the aspirational figure of 90 lpd for each and every Resident at Otterpool is met (highly dubious) this would still mean that 5.9 megalitres of potable water would have to be delivered from Paddlesworth each day.

The capacity of Paddlesworth reservoir, as far as we are aware, has never been mentioned in the Water Cycle Study produced by the developers consultant. It is a fact that has purposely been ignored to conjure up visions of Bewl Water (31,000 mega-litres) or similar sized reservoirs across the UK. In actual fact, Paddlesworth reservoir only holds 13.2 megalitres of water as recently confirmed by AW after the additional upgrade of 3 megalitres and relining of the existing reservoir holding 10.2 megalitres. Paddlesworth has been designated as a reservoir, but in actual fact it is a transfer pool to supply 62,000 plus residents between 5.9 and 9.6 mega-litres each day.

Screenshot from 2019-06-03 07-59-13

The rate of supply into the reservoir has to be equal to that of the output. The question has to be asked: Can the groundwater resource at WRZ7 be guaranteed to deliver that amount of water given that the records show (Little Bucket Farm) that December 2017 was extremely low. To conclude and to put this into perspective:

62,000 people need to be supplied with, on average, 7.75 million litres of potable water each day. The proposed pipeline will be of 560mm  diameter (500mm internal diameter) and 11 km in length (from Paddlesworth to Otterpool) Ignoring the existing pipeline, this will require 2.16 megalitres to fill before delivering water to the Otterpool properties. If the incoming supply is halted to the reservoir, the reservoir will be empty in less than 35 hours. This demonstrates that the designation of the Paddlesworth reservoir is just that. It is purely a transfer pool from pumped groundwater boreholes to residents homes.

Also lets’s not forget AW recommend that after the first 1,500 homes are built the project ought to be temporarily stopped for 12-18 months. This would enable them so to study water consumption rates and then apply what they learn, if they continue with the development.

Labour are against the development, as are the Lib Dems. However, the Greens are not promising to stop Otterpool Park like they are Princes Parade, as they do not believe it is a promise they could keep. The Shepway Green Party might be minded to search their conscience and say NO to Otterpool Park, like their opposition colleagues in the Chamber.

As climate change is the single biggest risk factor putting further unnecessary stress on our water system, when water is scarcer here per person than in Morocco or Egypt, building more homes than is necessary, is bonkers. 677 homes per year is enough, if we build more we will not just slide into the jaws of death but be swallowed by them too.

The Shepwayvox Team

Dissent is Not a Crime


About shepwayvox (1801 Articles)
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15 Comments on The Long Read: All is not what it seems as we slide slowly into the Jaws of Death

  1. A Sellindge Resident. // June 2, 2019 at 07:33 // Reply

    A fine piece of research as always. I hope the Greens will realise Otterpool Park should not get the go ahead and vote accordingly to prevent it. 677 Homes per year is enough. I suspect though this target will not be met. As for the Climate, well if as they say we are all going to fried slowly, then not having enough water is going to make a bad situation even worse. Another reason then Otterpool Park should not get the go ahead.

  2. Slurry-Kent // June 2, 2019 at 07:43 // Reply

    Excellent research. What a team.

  3. I still think Otterpool is the reason we didn’t have an official water shortage last summer. Previous years that weren’t as hot and dry had hosepipe bans, etc. But last year, a close contender to 76, nothing. They couldn’t talk about Otterpool while admitting there isn’t enough water for the people already living here.

  4. A Shepway Green Party Voter // June 2, 2019 at 15:29 // Reply

    As a local Green voter I would be appalled if I discovered that the Shepway Green Party supported Otterpool Park. If it turns out they are in favour in any form they will have lost my vote on any further occasion.

  5. Two Hythe Residents // June 2, 2019 at 15:39 // Reply

    If Mrs Whybrow and Mr Martin (Shepway Greens) do not come out in opposition to Otterpool, we will withdraw our substantial offer of money for a Judicial Review of Princes Parade.

  6. If the Shepway Green Party do not make a statement that they are opposed to Otterpool Park, my husband and I will not vote Green again. Nor will we provide the money we have pledged towards the Judicial Review for Princes Parade.

  7. Otterpool Park is only one development that will draw from the Chalk Aquifer of the North Downs, which the Geological Survey warned was under severe stress in their report of 2008. The continued development both on the north and south of the North Downs will only have exacerbated this stress, and the point will be reached where the aquifer is no longer able to meet demand. The water saving technology proposed for Otterpool Park, also to be retrofitted to 5% of other existing local properties will mean that the remaining 95% of customers – not only in the FH&DC area – will face higher bills. It would not be seen as fair to restrict use in the new development while letting others continue to use a scarce resourse as they like, so the means of reducing their usage will be to charge higher prices.

  8. Annoyed Hythe Resident // June 2, 2019 at 17:32 // Reply

    What is the difference between Princes Parade & Otterpool Park? None, they are both unwanted development. If Shepway Green Party who marched on a number of occasions to oppose development, fail to make a statement regarding Otterpool Park in the very near future, we too will be withdrawing our offer of money for the Princes Parade Judicial Review.

  9. Give us a Yes or No // June 2, 2019 at 18:08 // Reply

    Will the Shepway Green Party answer the simple question. Are they for or against Otterpool Park, a simple yes or no is enough.

  10. I too wish to know where the Shepway Green Party stand on this issue. Putting in an objection on Energy Policy, as Cllr Jim Martin has done, does NOT mean they are opposed. Until I receive a public response of an unequivocal NO, then I will withhold all monies I was prepared to donate to the Princes Parade Judicial Review.

  11. Cllr D W // June 7, 2019 at 02:00 // Reply

    Shepway Green Party has not promised to stop Otterpool Park because, as noted above, we are not sure that it is a promise we could keep.
    The article sets out the facts of the mandatory annual land supply targets imposed on this region by Westminster. There has been much debate as to whether FHDC could meet those obligations without any development at Otterpool.
    In any case, FHDC has already approved its Development Plan for this area and it is not at all certain that it can now be scrapped, especially with the Conservatives, UKIP & Mr Wimble forming a majority in Council.
    Obviously, if Shepway Green Party had a magic wand it would wave it and transform the current Development Plan into a much Greener one, ideally involving no building on green field sites – or with even greater magical power, make Central Govt’s land supply directives simply disappear altogether.
    If, however, it is not possible under current circumstances to prevent the current administration from building at the Otterpool site, the best that might be hoped for could be to limit the damage caused as far as is possible by working, for example, for fewer homes, smaller homes, affordable homes, zero carbon homes, less traffic, less ecological destruction, less pollution, etc.
    Moreover, any Councillor who categorically rejects the Otterpool Development now, in whatever form it might take, would thereby exclude him or herself from the planning process due to what is known as “pre-determination.”
    One way of understanding pre-determination is to imagine that a Council had decided to provide Family Planning services. Would a Councillor who had publicly stated that all contraception is evil then be a suitable person to sit on the Family Planning Cttee?
    Having said all this, of course Greens are opposed to all ecological destruction and increased pollution & carbon emissions. But Greens also live in the real world. Despite what we might wish, there may be some cases where the best one can realistically hope to achieve is damage limitation. Or perhaps, if we resist intelligently, basing our arguments on what are known as “material considerations, ” (such as the inadequate supply of water, as described above), we may find that the entire Otterpool project can be shown to be environmentally, socially and economically ill-conceived thereby requiring a complete and radical revision of the existing Development Plan and Core Strategy for this area, taking adequately into consideration such fundamental questions as Climate Breakdown, the Shortage of Fresh Water, and the ongoing Mass Extinction of species.

    • shepwayvox // June 7, 2019 at 08:48 // Reply

      First, Bio Diversity will increase by 20% according to the documents submitted for the Otterpool Park planning application, if one takes the time to read them.

      Second, Green Cllrs now elected were openly stating they were against Princes Parade and Otterpool Park prior to the election. How can they now declare they have a open mind and are free of pre-determination as soon as they step into office. Are you truly trying to convince us and the public that Cllr Lesley Whybrow and Jim Martin now have an open mind about Princes Parade? If you are, pull the other one please.

      As an aside with the Armed Forces day be a vegan only buffet?

  12. Cllr D W // June 8, 2019 at 17:12 // Reply

    First, there will be some gains in bio-diversity in the Otterpool Park area due to planting of hedges and trees etc but other species, particularly ground-nesting birds, for example, will be placed at risk. The developer has proposed mitigation and set-aside measures to reduce such harms but there is no certainty that species will indeed migrate to set-aside land adjacent to the development area and no mechanism to pay landowners in perpetuity to provide that set aside. Eco-systems are complex and interactive and such simplistic fixes are unlikely to preserve them. It is accepted that in some areas of particular ecological richness there will be irreparable losses. One could, of course, just as well enhance biodiversity in the area without pouring millions of tons of concrete over it.

    Campaigning prior to becoming a Councillor is not regarded as pre-determination – only actions a statements afterwards. Inference is insufficient to determine pre-determination.
    Shepway Green Party stated all along that it could not promise to stop Otterpool Park knowing that such a promise might be impossible to keep but would oppose every aspect of the development that is ecologically destructive, poorly planned, destructive of communities, causing pollution, traffic & congestion, and impractical in terms of water supply, sewage, and healthcare, etc. The distinction may seem subtle if you don’t fully understand what Development Plans and Core Strategies are, how they are adopted, and how close to impossible it is to remove them once they are in place.

    As an aside, yes, HTC will try to lead by example – I am sure you understand that we all need to cut down on our consumption of meat & fish if we are ever going to get anywhere in tackling the ecological crisis that our planet currently faces.

    • shepwayvox // June 9, 2019 at 08:11 // Reply

      Dictating what people can and cannot eat Cllr is a step to far. Veterans on Veterans day ought to be given a choice, meat, vegetarian or vegan. Or is the new Green motto: our way or the highway? As an aside would you be adverse to a traveller encampment, in or near Hythe? Or will the Greens prevaricate and kick the can down the road for others to decide upon?

      As for Local Plans and Core Strategies, we fully understand what they are. Our Public Face sat through 3 days worth of the Local Plan. The Shepway Green Party did not, nor did Labour or Lib Dems. You say you want to change our district for the better, but having no input into these important documents demonstrates your lack of engagement and desire to change. What does that say about your intentions for Otterpool?

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