Opposition rallying to motocross event
A CONTROVERSIAL motocross event could be returning to a Sevenoaks village – months after residents campaigned fiercely against it.
Outdoor adventure company Enduro Kent has filed another planning application to use land in Beechmont Bank, Hubbards Hill, for off-road motorbike practice six times a year.
Sevenoaks District Council (SDC) turned down its first application in September last year on the grounds of environmental impact in the Weald and Riverhill area.
But Enduro Kent director Shaun Turner insists the new application has taken into account the problems last year and will not have an effect on the village.
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However, residents are rallying round to renew their fight against it, claiming it will cause unacceptable noise and dust, and create chaos in green belt land registered as an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Enduro Kent held a day-long event on April 15 at Beechmont Bank, without planning consent, sparking outrage in Weald village and among Weald parish councillors.
Sarah and Edward Rogers, of Riverhill House, say the noise affected their business.
Mrs Rogers explained: "We were perplexed that a motocross event was allowed when last year's planning application for these events was rejected.
"Sundays are one of our busiest days for garden visitors and the noise generated by these 100 bikes meant our visitors were unable to relax and enjoy the gardens. We have had several complaints."
Lene Northwood, of Gracious Lane, said: "I rode dirt bikes for almost 20 years, so I do understand the enjoyment. However, I was always taught to be respectful of the local residents and property owners and that sentiment seems to be completely absent here.
"I'm saddened to see the reputation of what should be a positive activity sullied in this way."
Mr Turner pointed out they had permission from farmer Donald King to use the land and a Section 33 notice from Kent County Council (KCC) to use the rights of way.
He added: "If any track crosses a public footpath or right of way the crossing point is staffed and managed for the safety of the public and riders.
"Any members of the public using the right of way are given priority and their passage managed by attending staff.
"To our dismay a small number of residents local to the site have manufactured arguments that have no basis in fact about the activities of Enduro Kent.
"Without discussion they claim wrongly that our tracks pass within 15 metres of their homes.
"No part of our course runs within 500 metres of any home. Neither have we 'bulldozed' or created any extra tracks, we simply use existing access for coppicing and farming activities.
"We are aware that the vehicles being used make some noise, but no louder than other road legal traffic."
Daniel Whitmarsh, of SDC, said: "Motocross events at this location require planning consent from SDC and permission from KCC as the track crosses some rights of way.
"We are aware that an event took place in breach of planning control.
"Although it was not an offence, we would issue a 'Stop Notice' if we become aware of any future events.
"We are monitoring the situation."
KCC had not commented by the time the Chronicle went to press.
Mr King declined to comment.