Agenda item

Questions from the Public

To receive answers in respect of questions from the public to Members of the Executive asked in accordance with Rule 11 of the Council Procedure Rules.


(a)  Questions will be asked in the order in which notice of them was received, except that the Chairman may group together similar questions.

(b)  The period for questions by the public shall be limited so that no further questions shall be put after the elapse of 15 minutes from the commencement of the first question.

(c)   A maximum of three minutes is allowed for the each question to be read.

(d)  A questioner who has put a question in person may also put one supplementary question without notice to the member who has replied to his or her original question. A supplementary question must arise directly out of the original question or the reply.

(e)  Afterwards, any other Member at the Chairman's discretion may speak for up to two minutes on a question or reply.


Questions from the Public


The questions received during the notice period are set out in the agenda papers.



(1)  In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11, a question from Sarah Waite-Gleave was put to the Leader of the Council, Councillor T J Bartlett:


“DDC cllrs unanimously in Jan 2020 agreed to make the whole district zero carbon by 2050 and the DDC estate zero carbon by 2030 to limit the extent of the climate crisis. And this was wholely in line with the recommendations of our late much-loved Queen at the start of the UN Climate summit on 1st Nov 2021.  In line with those commitments, Will the council now a) Oppose as a matter of council policy any initiatives to develop fracking for shale gas as this will perpetuate our reliance on fossil fuels whilst failing to provide relief to those struggling with fuel bills (as the tiny contribution such activity would make to the world market would not effect prices), and b) Endorse the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty,  a global initiative to phase out fossil fuels and support a just transition, and write to ministers and our local MPs to urge the UK government to support this initiative?”


In response, the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Governance, Digital and Climate Change, Councillor C A Vinson stated:


“This Council has a longstanding commitment to protect our natural environment, and we are proud of our record in doing so. In January 2020 we committed to support the district to reduce its emissions, and for the Council to become a net zero carbon emitter by 2030. We have nearly halved our carbon emissions over the past 10 years and through the work of our Climate Change Project Advisory Group we continue to make progress towards our target.


The Council’s policy on any proposals to develop fracking for shale gas in our District was agreed at a Full Council meeting in November 2013 following detailed work undertaken by the Scrutiny Committee. The Council noted that any such plans would be a matter for KCC to determine, not DDC, but agreed that it would expect proposals to include an independent assessment of the impact on issues such as groundwater, noise, air pollution and traffic.


The points raised reflect the concerns of many local residents, and the decision taken by the Council still stands. Indeed, the Regulation 19 version of the Local Plan agreed by this Council last week links to the adopted Kent Minerals and Waste Local Plan, under which such proposals would be considered. That being said, I think it’s important to note that there are currently no such proposals anywhere in the Dover district, and the British Geological Survey indicates that there are no shale gas reserves, licences or study areas within our District boundaries.


On the question of endorsing the initiative calling for a Fossil Fuel Non-proliferation Treaty, I agree that this is an important issue worthy of consideration and I will ask the Climate Change Policy Advisory Group to review the detail at their next meeting and advise on the approach they believe the Council should take.”


A supplementary question was asked in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11.8.


(2)  In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11, a question from Peter Findley was put to the Leader of the Council, Councillor T J Bartlett:

“The public wants to support the work to reverse wildlife declines as evidence provided to the Wildlife Trusts and our own Kent Wildlife Trust shows. (ref. The trusts warn that parts of the government’s agenda, such as weakening habitat regulations that protect wildlife and weakening planning rules, threaten to undermine work to restore nature that is urgently needed. The UK Parliament alongside many Unitary and District authorities have declared climate and nature crises – recent government announcements around policy changes, including getting rid of the Habitats Directive demonstrably conflict with the need to address these crises. The pandemic showed how much free access to a flourishing wildlife-friendly Dover district brings benefits to all ages in our district. As the Dover District Council (DDC) new Local Plan goes for public consultation will DDC councillors and planners commit to heeding the many East Kent voices calling for extra protection and restoration of wildlife habitats in the final text of new Local Plan, and amend the DDC plan accordingly?”


In response the Leader of the Council stated:


“I am not sure how closely you have been following the progression of the Local Plan. I can inform you that the Regulation 19 Submission Plan was agreed to be published and submitted by Council last Wednesday evening (12th October).


Its publication provides the opportunity for members of the public and other bodies to make comments on the Plan. I therefore strongly encourage you to respond to the consultation to enable the points you raise in your question to be considered by the Council and the Planning Inspectorate.


The Regulation 19 Local Plan includes two strategic policies to ensure the protection and enhancement of the District’s natural environment, as well as specific development management policies - including biodiversity net gain, mitigation for disturbance of birds in the Thanet Coast and Sandwich Bay SPA, and the protection and enhancement of the River Dour. The inclusion of these policies reflects the importance of Dover’s biodiversity for Dover District Council.


Within the Local Plan, (and in summary) Strategic Policy 13 will ensure that statutory and non-statutory biodiversity sites, irreplaceable habitats and priority habitats and species are protected from the effects of development.


Strategic Policy 14 will ensure that our ecological networks are protected, and opportunities are taken to strengthen and enhance the connectivity of these networks.


Our Green Infrastructure Strategy, alongside the Kent Local Nature Recovery Strategy, currently in development, will further guide the restoration of biodiversity across the District.”


A supplementary question was asked in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11.8.


(3)  In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11, a question from Graham Wanstall was put to the Leader of the Council, Councillor T J Bartlett:


“Now that Her Majesty the Queen has passed away I ask that DDC commemorate her long reign with vision and seriousness.


As an example I ask you to consider naming the path through Connaught Park from the Park Avenue entrance to the top near the castle “QUEEN ELIZABETH II Way”. This would help in promoting an alternative walk to and from the town to the castle and would mark forever her late majesty’s historic reign as our Elizabeth the great. Do you support this proposal?”


In response the Leader of the Council stated:


“This Council of course recognises the enormous debt the whole country owes to Her Late Majesty the Queen for her service to the nation.


Whilst I am grateful to you for your proposal, and aware of the long history of that Connaught Park it has no direct connection, that I’m aware of, with Her Majesty the Queen.


I’m therefore not convinced that your suggestion of naming a path within Connaught Park in her memory would be a fitting tribute and so cannot support your proposal.


However, I do support the principle of looking to mark her late majesty’s historic reign with a permanent reminder of some sort within our District and would welcome ideas as to how we might best do this.”


Supporting documents: