News

Hawkinge Action Group

Contributed by localrags on Oct 30, 2002 - 04:03 PM

HAWKINGE ACTION GROUP

See also HAWKINGE ACTION GROUP - 6 MONTHS ON


Meetings
1 Nov 2000
15 Nov 2000
29 Nov 2000
14 Dec 2000
18 Jan 2001
22 Feb 2001
8 Mar 2001
22 Mar 2001
5 Apr 2001

Distribution to all members of the Hawkinge Action Group:

• Joanna Bates (Vickers Close) • Jean James (De Havilland Close)

• Raymond Bourdet (Haven Drive) • Dominique Jubien (Waddington Drive)

• Toni Bright (Le Roux Close) • Steve Mayes (Kipping Close)

• Brian Crowhurst (Green Close) • H.A. Peachy (Megone Close)

• D. Elphinstone (Westland Way) • Terry Plant (Heron Forstal Avenue)

• Richard Fletcher (Horsley Close) • Sue Scott (Rose Walk)

• Mark Tolputt (Downs Close)

• Steve Henderson (Spence Close) • Stephen Torrance (Stempe Close)

• Pat Unwin (Gloster Close)

cc: Michael Howard

Matt Nixon

Meeting 1st November 2000


1. From the members present at the meeting, a committee was formed.

The committee consists of:

- Chairman: Terry Plant

- Committee member: Jean James

- Committee member: Steve Mayes

- Committee member: Stephen Torrance

- Secretary: Dominique Jubien

2. M. Howard reported o­n progress made further to the meeting which took place o­n Wed 11th Oct at Hawkinge Village Hall:

Correspondence has taken place between M. Howard and the Defence Secretary in an effort to ascertain who holds ultimate responsibility for the clearance of the land.

The Defence Secretary is still keeping to his original views, saying that the MOD had assessed the land to the best of their ability at the time.

Copies of the correspondence will be forwarded by M. Howard to the Hawkinge Action Group committee.

At the Village Hall meeting, concerns were raised about the possibility of ordnance which might still be remaining under the new ‘mound’ now standing o­n what was the old airfield

M. Howard reported that BACTEC were in the process of screening the mound and that the search should be completed by next week. We’ll await to hear the result of the screening.

3. Further action to be taken by M. Howard:

We need to ascertain to what extent there is a risk if unexploded pipe mines lie beneath properties. To obtain an answer to this question, M. Howard will be approaching the MOD (following BACTEC suggestion) and will also be asking the opinion of a university expert.

Once we have assessed the extent of the risk, it will be put forward to various Estate Agents to determine the effect this would have o­n ‘property value’.

If as a result ‘property value’ decreases, M. Howard suggested that, collectively, we should approach a solicitor to seek legal advice.

Following reports that some developers (namely, Wimpey & Pentland Homes) have already confirmed that they had commissioned a search for ordnance prior to building,M. Howard will be contacting all developers involved in new developments in Hawkinge,asking them what searches they had made o­n the land prior to building and what subsequent action had been taken.

M. Nixon will be approaching the Kent Battle of Britain Museum in order to obtain copies of maps which were drawn at the time when pipe mines were placed.

M. Howard warned us that these maps may not be totally reliable.

Should M. Nixon be unable to obtain copies of the maps, M. Howard will get copies from the MOD.

The quantity of ‘practice bombs’ found in the area is also a great concern.

M. Howard will endeavour to relieve the anxiety regarding the ‘top soil’ taken from the roads 1st and 2nd cuttings.

M. Howard will also be approaching the HSE regarding contamination risks.



Meeting 15th November 2000


1. The committee meeting which took place o­n Wed 15th Nov 2000 was attended by Terry Plant, Steve Mayes, Stephen Torrance and Dominique Jubien.

2. - Since the last meeting of the Hawkinge Action Group, Terry Plant has been visiting various Estate Agents in Folkestone in order to establish whether the recent finds o­n the airfield were having any effect o­n property sales and prices. The general perception amongst Estate Agents is that the ‘by-pass’, rather than the discovery of pipe mines, is proving to have a more negative effect o­n potential buyers. The overall view is that property value has not been damaged by the recent events.

- o­ne Estate Agent warned T P that ‘going public’ by contacting the national media could be more detrimental than beneficial. This view had already been shared by those who attended the H.A.G. meeting o­n 1st Nov.- Terry Plant will keep regular contact with Estate Agents to check if the situation o­n property sales/prices alters.

3. - Dominique Jubien reported that copies of letters sent to Michael Howard by the Secretary of State for Defence have now been received by the Hawkinge Action Group.

- The overall content of these letters reiterates that the MOD feels that "they had made every reasonable effort to identify unexploded ordnance o­n the site"..... "discovered ordnance had been disposed of effectively"..... "the use of modern magnetic survey technology would unlikely significantly improve o­n previous clearance operations".

- Copies of the correspondence have been given to the five members of the committee and can be obtained by all member of the Hawkinge Action upon request.

4. - Dominique Jubien reported that no other correspondence had been received from Michael Howard since the meeting o­n 1st Nov. Dominique Jubien will be contacting Michael Howard to chase progress o­n all action points highlighted in the minutes of this first meeting.

5. - Steve Mayes will be contacting BACTEC to obtain a written report confirming which exact areas of the airfield have been surveyed. Aiming to provide reassurance to residents in all areas, it is hoped that the report will also confirm which developers contracted BACTEC for searches to be done.

- Steve Mayes will also be asking BACTEC the feasibility of doing a ‘spot search’ in some of the gardens.

If this can be done, a quotation will be obtained from BACTEC.

- Following the reply from BACTEC, Stephen Torrance will then contact all the developers to ask if they would be prepared to pay for the cost of doing a spot search in some of the gardens.

6. - Peter Carroll, from the Liberal Democrat party (headquarters in Hythe) wrote to the Hawkinge Action Group to ask if he could offer the group help and support.

- Terry Plant will be contacting Peter Carroll and will advise H.A.G. of the outcome of their discussion/meeting.



Meeting 29th November 2000


1. The committee meeting which took place o­n Wed 29th Nov 2000 was attended by Terry Plant, Steve Mayes, Stephen Torrance and Dominique Jubien. (Jean James was excused for not being able to attend the meeting).

2. - Terry Plant reported o­n a meeting which took place o­n 20th Nov with Peter Carroll, (Liberal Democrat party - headquarters in Hythe). Peter Carroll was already aware that Michael Howard is working very closely with the Hawkinge Action Group and he informed us that his offer to help us would not involve duplicating any of Mr Howard’s work o­n behalf of HAG. It was also made very clear to Mr Carroll that any help offered and given to HAG should not be used as a ‘political tool’.- Peter Carroll will be using his contacts from the historical branch of the RAF to endeavour to obtain drawings of the original layout of the airfield.

3. - Steve Mayes reported that he wrote to BACTEC, putting to them the various questions which were highlighted in the minutes of our last meeting (15th Nov). As at 29th Nov, no written reply had been received from BACTEC. However, BACTEC did acknowledge receipt of the letter and informed Steve Mayes (during a telephone conversation) that they were in the process of preparing a response to all the points.

4. An impressive batch of correspondence has been received from Michael Howard, in response to some of the action points highlighted at our 1st Nov meeting.

a) Letter from the HSE advising of a suitable candidate who might be able to carry out an assessment of risks from explosive ordnance possibly located under buildings.

b) Letter from Smith-Wooley & Perry, acting for Pentland Homes who own most of the land scheduled for development. As at 6th Nov, BACTEC had not cleared the site designated for the building of the school, nor had they cleared the ‘mound’now standing at the centre of the old airfield (although they had removed a section of a pipe mine from this area together with a 250kg bomb found in the near vicinity).

SWP also confirmed that BACTEC informed them that if there is any live ordnance under the mound, it is unlikely to pose any significant threat. SWP are establishing the costs incurred by Pentland Homes in dealing with failure by the Govt for removing ordnance from the site. SWP are seeking legal advice as to the probability of recovery of costs.

Areas not under Pentland Homes’ control including the Air Museum and the Old Officers Mess have not been re-surveyed by BACTEC, therefore cannot be said to be clear of any ordnance.

c) Letter from Wimpey Homes regarding the 97 dwellings o­n the Merlin Rise estate. Being aware of the former land use, Wimpey asked Sitescan Ltd to do a magnetic survey in 1996. The result of the survey, done over a 1m grid, highlighted some anomalies. These were then investigated by the MOD who concluded that the metal objects highlighted were old water mains, etc. As a result, Wimpey got clearance from the MOD.

d) Letter from J. Stack at Shepway District Council who confirmed that the council will be reluctant to take ownership of the land (for the village green) unless it has been cleared of metallic objects.

5. Terry P. will be contacting Matt Nixon to check if he has been able to obtain the matrix showing where pipe mines were placed.

6. Steve T. will be contacting J. Stack to get confirmation o­n - which exact areas of the land have been/are to be taken over by Shepway District Council.- action taken/to be taken regarding reassurance o­n the safety/ordnance clearance of these areas.

7. Terry P. will be contacting D. Brocklehurst of the Kent Battle of Britain Museum.


Meeting 14th December 2000


1. The committee meeting which took place o­n Thu 14th Dec 2000 was attended by Terry Plant, Stephen Torrance and Dominique Jubien. (Steve Mayes and Jean James were excused for not being able to attend the meeting). Mr Guy Lucas (Managing Director of BACTEC) and Mr Peter Carroll (Lib Dem party) were also present.

2. - Mr Guy Lucas (MD of BACTEC) explained that BACTEC contacted the original landowner, generating the possible need to carry out further searches o­n the airfield prior to residential development.- Benefiting from reliable contact sources at the MOD, BACTEC were able to obtain a copy of the matrix drawn in 1942, showing the location of pipe mines o­n the airfield. Whilst we could not be given a copy of the map by Mr Lucas, he clearly explained to us where pipe mines had originally been placed, drawn o­n the map over an approx. 200yds x 200yds grid.

- Following the searches already made by the MOD, BACTEC confirmed that they cleared a further 6 ordnance items. Considering, that over 276 pipe mines were placed to protect the airfield, this small percentage of findings by BACTEC surveying a vast area of the field does give us some reassurance regarding the strength of the original searches carried out by the MOD.

- As further land is being prepared for development, BACTEC have been contracted to pursue searches in new areas, prior to building. - Mr Guy Lucas further explained that as pipe mines were generally placed at a 10 degree angle, at a depth of about 5/6m, the danger of any resident making any further findings whilst ‘digging in the garden’was more than unlikely.- The question of ‘possible danger from leakage’ was put to Mr Lucas who responded that o­ne of the advantages of the heavy clay in our area was that it would help prevent any possible leakage to seep much further away from its immediate area. - However, for further peace-of-mind, Mr Lucas recommended that we asked for a threats analysis assessment to be carried out (this had already been recommended by Mr Howard). Mr Lucas kindly offered to write to an independent expert and get a quotation o­n our behalf. Inevitably, this complex survey will not come ‘free’ and whilst we shall be contacting developers to finance the project, we may, at a last resort, also have to ask residents for a very small contribution.

3. We still have not been able to obtain our own copy of the matrix - it seems that this vital piece of information has been given a ‘restricted access’status by the MOD. Perhaps Mr Howard could renew our plea to the MOD.

4. Another document we would also like to hold is a copy of the ‘clearance certificate’ which was issued by the MOD. We were told that a copy had originally been sent to the Alkham Valley Authorities.

5. Mr Peter Carroll supplied us with a copy of a very informative booklet recording the military action which took place in Hawkinge. He was also able to provide us a copy of a map drawn by the Air Ministry which represents the site of the old airfield including runways, buildings, etc.

6. Latest correspondence received from Mr M. Howard: - Letter from Wilcon Homes confirming that they were satisfied with the clearance certificate issued by the MOD, concerning the area Wilcon were building o­n. Subsequent correspondence shows that a device was found in Feb 93 by Wilcon during excavations and cleared by the Military Authorities.- Letter from Pentland Homes confirming that the 18 houses they built next to the Village Green had been erected without Pentland Homes carrying out an independent land search. No mines were discovered during construction and no subsequent search has taken place.



Meeting: 18 January 2001


1. The committee meeting which took place o­n Thu 18th Jan 2001 was attended by Terry Plant, Steve Mayes, Stephen Torrance and Dominique Jubien.

2. A full review was made of all the correspondence received so far.

- Matthew Homes:

- letter dated 11/12/00 confirming that searches were conducted by SiteScan Ltd in 1997 and 1999 prior to the building of ‘Angel Heights’ and ‘Roundel Park’.

- letters from Headquarters Land Command (dated 11/9/97 & 25/1/00), confirming that the 2 sites were granted a clearance certificate. We are now waiting to receive copies of these 2 certificates.

- McLean Homes:

- letter dated 28/11/00 stating that McLean Homes relied o­n the original clearance certificate issued by the MOD after their search of the area in 1985.

- we are now waiting to receive reassurance that the area where Wilcon Homes have been built is definitely part of the overall area searched by the MOD.

- Pentland Homes:

- letter from Pentland Homes dated 12/12/00 regarding the 18 Pentland Homes built o­n a site adjacent to the Village Green. Pentland states that they did not make any independent search prior to the building of these 18 houses.

- letter from Smith-Woolley-Perry dated 6/11/00 o­n behalf of Pentland Homes regarding the new development planned to be built o­n the west side of the new bypass. This area has been searched by BACTEC. We are now waiting to receive the clearance certificate.

- Wilcon Homes:

- letter dated 5/12/00 stating that Wilcon Homes relied o­n the original clearance certificate issued by the MOD after their search of the area in 1985.

- we are now asking to receive reassurance that the area where Wilcon Homes have been built is definitely part of the overall area searched by the MOD.

- Wimpey Homes:

- letter dated 20/11/00 confirming a search was made o­n Merlin Rise by SiteScan Ltd.

- we are now waiting to receive a copy of the clearance certificate issued by the MOD.

- BACTEC have been commissioned to survey the site of the new Wimpey development (off Pannell Drive).

- Community Centre:

- letter from HSE (Health & Safety Executive) to J.Stack (Shepway District Council) dated 6/11/00 confirming that the area designated for the Community Centre has been surveyed and cleared.

- J.Stacks has been asked to supply us with a copy of the clearance certificate.

- Village Green:

- letter from HSE (Health & Safety Executive) to J.Stack (Shepway District Council), dated 6/11/00, confirming that the area designated for the Village Green (under the control of Pentland Homes) had been surveyed but not cleared.HSE advises J.Stack to contact owner of the land to clarify this with BACTEC.

- letter from J.Stack to HAG committee, dated 22/12/00, confirms the above and also states that the Council was reluctant to take ownership of this land before it had been cleared.

- Strategic Land Area (the mound):

- letter from HSE (Health & Safety Executive) to J.Stack (SDC), dated 6/11/00, confirming that this area had not been surveyed. BACTEC has been commissioned to survey it and, as at early November, this work had not yet started.

- New School:

- letter from J.Stack (SDC) to HAG committee, dated 22/12/00, stating that the County Council’s officers have notified him that they will clear this site.- o­nce this is done, we will need to receive copy of the clearance certificate.

3. Stephen Torrance will be contacting all the above-named developers in order to obtain copies of clearance certificates issued, together with detailed maps showing which exact areas were surveyed and cleared.

4. Terry Plant will be contacting Guy Lucas (BACTEC) to obtain a detailed map showing exactly which areas they have surveyed and cleared.Terry P. will also be chasing Mr Lucas regarding the quotation we are waiting to receive from DERA to do a ‘threat analysis survey’.

5. Dominique Jubien will be contacting Hawkinge Parish Council to obtain an up-to-date map clearly indicating all the new developments which have taken place and any future o­nes planned - this will help us cross reference with maps we are getting from the developers and from BACTEC.

DJ will also enquire about the possibility of using the Village Hall for a meeting with all members of HAG (we hope this will take place mid-February, date to be confirmed to all members of HAG and to other guests attending).

6. Steve Mayes will be contacting P. Torry to ask him to supply an up-to-date list indicating which areas of the land were acquired by which developer/other parties.

7. Latest correspondence from Michael Howard (dated 2/01/01) enclosed a letter from the Secretary of State. Various statements made in this letter are generating the need for further enquiries.Dominique Jubien will be contacting Mr Howard to chase replies from Geoffrey Hoon.

Mr Howard should, again, ask to obtain a copy of the matrix from the MOD. We know this map exists and we shall persist in approaching G. Hoon to obtain a copy.



Meeting: 22 February 2001


1. The committee meeting which took place o­n Wed 22 Feb 2001 was attended by Terry Plant, Steve Mayes, Stephen Torrance, Matt Nixon & Dominique Jubien.

2. The detailed report o­n searches made at each housing estate can o­nly be completed o­nce we have received answers from all developers including copies of clearance certificates - still awaiting for Wilcom to respond.

3. Need to get an update from local estate agents o­n the value of houses in the area - is the airfield affecting prices?. Need to try to also contact local ‘sellers’ to get their views.

4. As DERA has failed to respond to us, M. Howard has now contacted a professor at Cranfield University to obtain a quotation for a threat analysis survey to be carried out.

5. M. Howard chasing G.Hoon for an official copy of the matrix.

6. Need to contact Sec. of Hawkinge Parish Council to obtain copy of the minutes of meeting which took place o­n 11 Oct 2000.

7. Need to chase Chairman of Hawkinge Parish Council regarding the possibility of using the village hall for a general meeting with all members of HAG. It is hoped this can be agreed at no cost to HAG.

8. Investigations have been made further to the letter sent to the Hawkinge Gazette website regarding copies of documents held by the Public Records Office in Kew. An application form and a quote to obtain these documents are now being forwarded to S.Mayes.

9. A meeting is to be arranged with David Brocklehurst of the Kent Battle of Britain Museum to endeavour to obtain copies of maps which might be relevant to us



Meeting: 8 March 2001


1. The committee meeting which took place o­n Thu 8 March 2001 was attended by Terry Plant, Steve Mayes,Stephen Torrance & Dominique Jubien.

2. Everyone in the committee expressed their discontent further to reading o­ne of the items highlighted in the leaflet distributed to house owners in this area by the Lib Dem party last week. Despite the fact that Mr Peter Carroll had been clearly asked by HAG not to publicise his involvement with the group (see minutes of 29 Nov meeting), mention of his involvement was made in the leaflet. Whilst HAG was grateful for the information obtained from Mr Carroll, we are highly disappointed that he did not keep to his words by deciding to use the help he gave us as a ‘political tool’. Terry P. will be writing to Mr Carroll.

Further to this, and in fair recognition for the vast amount of help and information we have had from Mr Howard, the committee has agreed to now give Mr Howard the opportunity to also publicise his involvement with HAG, should he wishes to do so. Dominique J. to write to Mr Howard.

3. Review of letters sent by Stephen T. to developers and their replies. Obtaining the ‘clearance certificates’ from everyone is proving to be a very laborious task. Stephen will contact developers again, giving them a 2 weeks deadline to supply the requested information.

4. Terry P. reported o­n his latest visit to local Estate Agents. Again, the current outlook is good and prices have not been affected by the former use of the land. Several Estate Agents confirmed that requests from buyers were exceeding the number of houses they had to sell.

5. Steve M. reported that no reply had been received from Sanctuary Houses to ascertain what searches were made before the new houses were built in the Blenheim Drive area.

6. Steve M. reported that the area allocated to the new school was being scanned. No confirmation of ‘clearance’ has been received. Further to a phone call made to KCC, it seems that pre-fab buildings will be put in place between May-July for use in Sept while work o­n the new school building is being carried out.

7. No reply has been received from the expert asked to supply us with a quotation for the ‘risks analysis survey’ we would like to carry out. Dominique to contact Mr M. Howard for him to ‘chase’.

8. We are delighted to now hold an official copy of the matrix which Mr Michael Howard has been able to obtain o­n our behalf.

9. Steve M. & Terry P. will be visiting SDC to look for documents relating to the Public Enquiry of 1993.

10. Dominique J. has obtained a copy of the minutes of the open meeting which had taken place at the Village Hall o­n 11 Oct 2000.

11. Still awaiting to get a reply from the Parish Council regarding HAG being able to use the Village Hall free of charge for a future meeting with all members of the group. Dominique J. to contact the Parish Council again after 14 Mar 01 (date of the Parish Council’s next meeting).

12. Steve M. will be visiting the Public Records Office in Kew to check if the information they hold is of interest to HAG. A charge is being made to obtain copy of documents.

13. A meeting has been arranged with David Brocklehurst of the Kent Battle of Britain Museum.



Meeting: 22 March 2001


1. The committee meeting took place at the home of Steve Mayes o­n Wed 22nd March 2001 and was also attended by Terry Plant and Stephen Torrance. Apologies were given for Dominique Jubien.

2. Since the last meeting, Stephen Torrance has written to all the developers requesting copies of the clearance certificates that they had been issued by the commercial clearance companies. As yet, none of them have replied. Stephen is to call them over the next few days.

3. Steve Mayes is still awaiting a response from Sanctuary Housing regarding Blenheim Drive.

4. Due to recent events and the current situation regarding the way forward, it was decided to call a meeting of the entire H.A.G. to talk through the committee’s findings in detail and discuss the options that are available to the residents of the aerodrome estates. This will be a closed meeting with no public being invited.

5. Dominique has at last received notification from the Parish Council, that we shall be allowed to use the village hall (free of charge) for the purpose of the aforementioned meeting.

6. Both Steve Mayes and Terry Plant attended a meeting with both David Brocklehurst of the Kent Battle of Britain Museum and Graham Greene, to gain further knowledge of the history of the pipe mines and bombing raids inflicted upon the airfield. It became very apparent that the previous information that we had been supplied regarding the amount of bombs dropped o­n the aerodrome, were ridiculously low and that the airfield had been constantly bombarded during the war. Also, Mr Brocklehurst confirmed our suspicions that there were more pipe mines laid o­n the airfield than are shown o­n the ‘Matrix’. Overall, it was a very informative meeting and they were both thanked for their assistance.

7. Following the letter that was posted o­n the Hawkinge Gazette website regarding a document held and the Public Records Office, Steve Mayes visited Kew to view the said document. Although the document did relate to defences at the airfield, which made fascinating reading, unfortunately they had no bearing o­n the pipemines etc. However, whilst searching their computer database, Steve came across a document that was large in content and included the original station diaries from 1939 to 1946. However, these had been mysteriously withdrawn from the records office and are currently with a ‘Governmental Department’. Steve has filled in a form requesting that they be sent back to Kew for his viewing. The PRO will be contacting Steve in the next four weeks.

8. With regard to the insurance issue, Stephen Torrance will be contacting both the Insurance Ombudsman and the Association of British Insurer’s to seek advice.



Meeting: 5 April 2001


1. The committee meeting took place o­n Thu 5th April 2001 and was attended by Terry Plant, Steve Mayes, Stephen Torrance and Dominique Jubien.

2. The Insurance Ombudsman and the Association of British Insurer’s have been contacted for advice. It is hoped that we shall be able to report more fully o­n this o­n-going issue at the general meeting.

3. Still ‘battling’ with developers to obtain copies of clearance certificates - a massive amount of correspondence has been exchanged! Dominique Jubien to contact Mr Howard to seek any possible help with this matter.

4. Steve Mayes will be contacting Smith Woolley & Perry concerning the statement they had made in o­ne of their letters regarding the ‘number of bombs which had been dropped o­n Hawkinge airfield’.

5. Further enquiries are to be made by Steve Mayes regarding Blenheim Drive as after contacting Sanctuary Housing we were told they were not responsible for this estate.

6. Dominique Jubien to contact Mr Howard to get further confirmation that the 1985 land search was in fact just an ‘agricultural survey’.

7. Stephen Torrance to contact Jeff Stack (SDC) to check whether the area designated for the village green has now been cleared.

8. Our next committee meeting will be to prepare an agenda for the general meeting, including review of all the correspondence received the last few months.