Oaken Wood quarry extension judicial review refused

Oaken Wood Gallagher Aggregates was granted permission to extend its Hermitage Quarry into Oaken Wood in July

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Campaigners against plans to extend a quarry into ancient woodland in Kent have lost their bid to challenge the decision at the High Court.

Eric Pickles gave Gallagher Aggregates permission to extend its Hermitage Quarry into Oaken Wood, near Maidstone, following a public inquiry.

The Woodland Trust and activists opposing it claimed 80 acres of ancient woodland would be lost.

On Thursday permission for a judicial review of the decision was refused.

Jasper Gerard, the Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Maidstone and the Weald, said the application was rejected on a "legal technicality".

'Recent plantation'

He added: "I'm very, very disappointed. The judge actually acknowledged that we might think justice has not but done but this was the legal process.

"Our argument is not with Gallagher but Mr Pickles.

"Sadly it's too late for Oaken Wood but I hope those who have come together to save it can continue campaign for threatened woodland."

Mr Pickles said most of the site consisted of more recent plantation, with no veteran trees, when he approved the application in July.

He also said there was very considerable need for both crushed rock aggregates and stone.

Ancient woodland is classed as land that has been continuously wood since 1600, providing a home for many species of animals and plants.

Gallagher Aggregates previously said it was widely acknowledged the sweet chestnut coppice was planted 150 years ago.

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