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Reprieve in battle for woodland

Oaken Wood
Oaken Wood

Campaigners are celebrating news that plans to quarry for ragstone beneath 81 acres of ancient woodland are to be reconsidered.

Kent County Council approved Gallagher Aggregates’ application to dig up part of Oaken Wood, between Barming and East Malling, earlier this year, but the Save Oaken Wood campaign was given a glimmer of hope when Secretary of State Eric Pickles decided to call the plan in.

They are now preparing to fight their corner again after Mr Pickles confirmed there will be a public inquiry into the application.

Campaign leader Sarah Cooper said: “It’s really good news. It seems to me that finally somebody is listening to us. Hopefully they’ll look at it from a rational point of view.”

Gallagher Group insist the extension to Hermitage Quarry is “significant and important”, due to the supply of construction materials and the employment it would generate.

Chief executive Nick Yandle said: “We understood that the Secretary of State may choose to call in the application, and have prepared accordingly.

"We have made a strong case, now supported by Kent County Council, and we shall continue to press the merits of our proposals in order to secure a positive outcome.”

A date for the inquiry has yet been determined.

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