These are hardly the statistics you would associate with a “local company”. The truth is that Brett Aggregates are one of largest and most powerful aggregate producers and suppliers in the UK. To portray the company in any other way, especially when it relates to an issue of genuine public concern about their commercial operations at Ramsgate Port, is to deceive and mislead local people. Something you would not expect a public body to do. But hey this is Thanet.
The press release goes on to say that the large aggregate washing plant which Brett hopes to install at Ramsgate Port, is required to “enhance the company’s existing operation”. This wording suggests that Brett’s are not planning any major changes at Ramsgate but simply improving, streamlining and modernising what they are already doing. Once again the council is being deceptive. The press release deliberately fails to mention the fact that Thanet Council has already permitted Brett to expand the area of land it rents at Ramsgate Port. It also fails to mention the fact that the new washing facility, which also incorporates a noisy aggregate crushing capability, will allow Brett to increase its aggregate processing capacity to over 100,000 tonnes per year which is a huge increase on their current production capacity.
So what we actually have, is not a small local company enhancing its existing operations, as deceitful TDC would have you believe, but one of the largest aggregate companies in the UK, significantly increasing the footprint of its operation at Ramsgate Port and seeking to install equipment which will enable it to massively expand its productive capacity. Expansion on this scale is certain to have serious noise, dust and traffic implications, plus an increased threat to Ramsgate’s protected marine conservation areas next to the port.
I strongly suspect that this expansion, is not be the end of Brett’s ambitions at Ramsgate port, but the beginning of further growth and development of its capacity. Why? Well a recent report from the highly respected British Geological Survey notes that land based aggregate extraction from quarries and gravel pits has been is steady decline over the past 20 years. So called “marine dredged aggregates” are now beginning to replace land extracted sources, particularly in south east of England which apparently has abundant supplies of marine aggregate located in shallow water which makes much easier and cheaper to extract. Already having a specialist marine aggregate division, plus a facility at Ramsgate which offers plenty of room to expand and grow, will give Brett a huge advantage over its competitors and the opportunity to dominate the south east England marine aggregate business.
Second, in 2017/18 work begins on the £150 million expansion and improvement of Dover Harbour. This huge civil engineering project is estimated to require an astronomic 2.5 million cubic metres of aggregate. Dover Harbour Board plans to extract the aggregate from the nearby Goodwin Sands and is currently awaiting a decision from the Government’s Maritime Management Organisation about the granting of a maritime aggregate dredging licence which will permit this work. With its considerable expertise in marine aggregate dredging; access to a large modern aggregate processing facility at nearby Ramsgate Port, Brett’s would be a front runner to win any contracts for marine aggregate dredging and processing that Dover Harbour Board might be letting in the next year or so.
Last but not least, the much delayed Local Plan for Thanet will include a target to build at least 12,000 new homes in the district in the next 15 years. Dover, Canterbury and Shepway districts also have their own Local Plan targets for new house building over the same period of time. Coupled with the infrastructure and services to support this large increase in housing numbers there will be a significant increase in demand for aggregates and concrete in the east Kent area. Once again Brett with their strategically located base in Ramsgate are ideally positioned to corner what is likely to be an extremely lucrative market.My belief is that if Brett are given permission, by KCC, to expand their activities at Ramsgate Port this would open the door to a series of expansions leading to the port and surrounding areas becoming dominated by a massive aggregate processing plant. Such a development would quickly kill off Ramsgate’s slowly reviving visitor economy destroying in the process many more jobs and business opportunities than the Brett’s aggregate plant could ever create.
Its simply wrong to locate a potentially polluting and environmentally damaging industrial operation in the middle of town which depends on its visitor economy. There are plenty are other locations, not in tourist areas, which Brett could use – for example Ridham docks, which would provide excellent facilities for their business. Like the O’Regan concrete block debacle which was strongly resisted by Ramsgate people 18 months ago, we now need to be begin a new campaign to stop Brett despoiling Ramsgate’s seafront. This continual pressure to locate dirty, polluting industries at the port and the seeming willingness of Labour and UKIP council administrations to comply and cooperate also underlines the urgency of developing a “People’s Plan” for Ramsgate seafront which will be leisure focused and exclude inappropriate industries and off-shore Panamanian property speculators too.