Published: 06:00, 27 August 2021
| Updated: 15:35, 27 August 2021
Councillors were accused of not listening to the public during a heated exchange of words at a meeting discussing the Princes Parade development.
The plan to create an artificial badger sett on the land running parallel to Hythe seafront was approved by Folkestone and Hythe District Council's (FHDC) planning committee on Tuesday night.
The existing setts need to be removed in order to make way for the already-approved coastal scheme, which will include 150 homes, a leisure centre, hotel, shops and open spaces.
FHDC is behind the overall project, and investigative testing has already started on site.
More than 100 objections were submitted to the council over the plans to relocate the badger's homes, and speakers also voiced their concerns during the meeting.
One objector called the proposal 'wrong' and said land at the new location, to the west of the site, is contaminated and closer to the road, which will lead to badger deaths.
Cllr Jim Martin (Green), speaking on behalf of Hythe Town Council, added that there were inaccuracies in the report, and called it premature in view of a public inquiry which will be carried out in October over the plan to stop up Princes Parade road, which is also part of the overall scheme.
Cllr Georgina Treloar (Green) said the new site is not suitable, argued over the size of the exclusion zone and accused the report of 'blatant greenwashing'.
She recommended deferring the scheme until more information is available.
But during the meeting, it was heard the planning application only seeks permission to build the new mound, and that in order for the badgers to actually be re-located, a licence will first need to be granted from Natural England.
In the end, the project was approved with six votes in favour and five against.
A second planning application looking at clearing the Princes Parade site and safeguarding protected species, was also approved, despite more objections.
Those against the application called it inaccurate, out of date and incomplete. This included the absence of noting that pheasants, snakes and kestrels frequent the land.
But again, this scheme was voted through with six votes in favour and five against.
Members of the public shouted out in anger over the application being approved, with one person calling out: "Thank you for not listening to the public".
But those in the chamber were told they would be removed if they continued to interrupt the meeting.
The Princes Parade scheme has been long fought over the years, and ended up in the High Court when action group Save Princes Parade launched Judicial Review.
This was eventually lost, but the group continue to fight back against the development.
Earlier this month, nearly 1,000 people took part in a protest along the road and formed a human chain around the land.
Work on the new badger sett will begin as early as next month.
A spokesman for FHDC said: "We are very pleased by the licensing and planning committee’s decisions - it means we can continue to progress our exciting plans to create a brand new leisure centre, accessible open areas, community amenity spaces, and new housing at the former Princes Parade municipal waste tip.
"The local planning authority considered the planning merits of the two applications in depth last night and concluded that both were credible and satisfied all the appropriate requirements.
"Work to safeguard and improve key ecological features of the area is at the heart of the project and we can now deliver a new, appropriate badger sett on the site.
"Work will start on this next month."