Tooting for Wildlife

Protest at Betteshanger Country Park


Sue Sullivan

There was a lot of supportive tooting by passing drivers when local people gathered at the gates of Betteshanger Country Park on Saturday 12th November.

The protest, organized by the Friends of Betteshanger, was to highlight the strength of feeling in the local area, about the proposal to build a luxury Hotel and Surfing Lagoon at the Country Park. The damage this would do to the Park’s wildlife, and to a valued green space for the local community, has resulted in a flood of objections to Dover planning department.

Objectors are dismayed that rare plants such as Lizard orchids, which are an iconic species in the Dover District, will be dug up, dismayed that vulnerable species such as Turtle Doves are under threat

Sue Sullivan said: ‘Turtle Doves have declined by 98% since the 1970’S and we have a special responsibility to protect their remaining habitats, such as those at Betteshanger Country Park, and prevent their extinction in the UK. The colony of Lizard Orchids at Betteshanger rivals that at Sandwich Bay Nature Reserve. They are a treasure of Dover District.’

Colin Bridgland said ‘I am not against a Hotel or Surfing facility but this is our Country Park, it’s the wrong place for such developments.’

Hannah Rose added: “I honestly don’t understand how they could get away with destruction of this beautiful place. It’s not wasteland, it’s a haven, not found anywhere else near Deal’.

Objectors are also deeply concerned about climate change. The carbon footprint of the Surfing Lagoon is huge. How would it help Dover District to become carbon neutral by 2050?

 Traffic is another major issue. Local roads are already overcrowded and the proposals are only going to make this worse. Up to 700,000 visitors per annum are predicted to visit the hotel and surf lagoon and people would travel from all over the South East and beyond. This would fly in the face of Dover’s ambition for sustainable travel and add significantly to travel difficulties for local people.

And we are in one of the most severely stressed areas for water, in the whole country. As objectors have pointed out, this summer there wasn’t even sufficient water for farmers to water their crops. Can we really afford the luxury of a Surf Lagoon that would take 26 million litres of water?

There is still time to have your say on the proposals. Make a comment on the Dover planning pages. Planning application 22/01158 for the Surf Lagoon. Planning application 22/01152 for the Hotel.

Have your say

Here is a link to the Dover District Council planning page for the Seahive. Click on “make a comment” to submit your objection.

And here is a link to the planning page for the hotel. Click on “make a comment” to submit your objection.

Sue Sullivan, Friends of Betteshanger

Sue Sullivan is part of the campaign group the Friends of Betteshanger, which was set up to be a voice for wildlife on the Betteshanger sites. She is a retired teacher, has a lifelong interest in ecology and the natural world and has been involved in environmental campaigning for many years.

Friends of Betteshanger on Facebook.

Read more here:

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