A couple who run a trout farm business are looking forward to calmer waters in the New Year after 2016 proved something of an annus horribilis.
For most of the year, Alison and Paul Davis feared the family business in Harrietsham, established for 44 years, would have to close because of a proposed housing development just 50 metres away.
A developer wanted to build two houses on land east of Goddington Lane.
The proposal was for both the surface water and treated foul sewage to drain directly into the Goddington Chalk Stream which feeds Parkwood Trout Farm, home to 40,000 brown and rainbow trout.
Mrs Davis said: “Trout are very sensitive and even the slightest pollution could have devastated our stocks.”
After 10 months’ consideration, Maidstone council has refused the application.
Rob Jarman, the head of planning services, described it as “unacceptable and unjustified development within the countryside.”
He said it would cause “significant harm to wildlife” and the applicant had not been able to show the sensitive Chalk Stream could be protected from pollution.
Mrs Davis added: “It’s wonderful news. We’re very relieved. This has blighted our lives for the whole year.”
Fish from the farm are used to re-stock the Rivers Darent, Stour and Teise.
The stream feeds into the River Len, which supplies the moat and lakes at Leeds Castle.
The castle’s estate director Bill Lash had also objected, saying the castle was concerned pollution would affect the ecology and wildlife on its ponds.
Mrs Davis said: “Fighting this application has taken up much of our time, when we should have been running our business.
“But the support from our customers has been wonderful.
“We’re looking forward now to a worry-free new year.”