St. Mary's Island Residents' Association Ltd. (SMIRA)
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Peel Ports close the pedestrian access across the caisson under the roadbridge

Peel Ports have closed the pedestrian access across the caisson under the (former) Lifting Bridge to undertake repairs to the caisson with the intention of moving it in December to replace the caisson currently being used as an access road into Chatham Docks on the other side of Basin 2.

It is possible that the Island could lose it's lower pedestrian access. Since this pedestrian access has only been used for about 15 years it isn't covered by laws protecting public footpaths (access has to be available for 20+ years).

Many residents have expressed their feelings at the possibility of losing the pedestrian access and it has been taken up by Mark Reckless, our MP. Click here to see the letter Mark has sent to Peel Ports.

Residents who wish to petition Peel Ports can find their contact details on the website: They can also be contacted on 01795 596596.

Recycling Update: 29th November 2011

Mark Reckless has written to the HPA regarding our concerns about Peel Ports. Click here for a copy of the letter.

You can still lodge your objections to the recycling licence that the Port of Sheerness, (Peel Ports) have recently applied for, including woodchip processing, by logging onto

Name of Operator: Port of Sheerness
Permit number: KP3598VQ
Application Number: EPR/KP3598VQ/V002 (EAWML 101825)

Closing date for comments: 23rd December 2011

IMPORTANT NOTE for residents

At the AGM held on 25th November 2011, residents expressed the desire to communicate their feelings regarding the application by Peel Ports to build a mixed use development on the south side of Chatham docks (‘Chatham Waters’) to Medway Council Planning Department. The application includes a bio-fuelled combined heating/power plant and residents are worried that the biofuel used could be woodchip, especially after the problems St. Mary’s Island residents have had with Peel Ports over the last few months.

Our local councilor, Andrew Mackness has suggested that residents wishing to respond to the Outline Planning Application by Peel Ports should send their comments by e-mail initially, in the form of an attached letter to to reach him by Tuesday 29th November 2011 latest.

A hard copy of the attached letter should then be forwarded to the Council for the attention of Dave Harris at:

Medway Council
Development, Economy and Transport
Regeneration, Community and Culture
Gun Wharf
Dock Road

It is important to ensure that the Application Number: MC/11/2756 is noted on all correspondence and that the letter is dated.


Click here, sit back and enjoy!

See below for the SMIRA response to the Peel Ports Odour Problem - Background & Update.

Click here for the Official response from Peel Ports.

Peel Ports Wood Chip Processing Operations - the Background and an Update November 2011

In August Peel Ports, in the name of the Port of Sheerness Ltd, made application to the Environment Agency (EA) for a License to carry out the recycling of paper, soil and wood into wood chip at it's Chatham Docks site. Operations to recycle the soil and paper had been established for some while but the operation to recycle the waste wood product was relatively new.

SMI residents had experienced and reported to both Medway Council and the EA a few incidents of dust and litter contamination prior to the start of the wood recycling but in more recent months the number of incidents of dust contamination on the Island emanating from this operation had significantly increased.

On the 24th of August SMIRA sent a response to the EA objecting to the granting of the License but felt also that, as this process could take months, they should engage directly with Peel Ports. Contact was made with James Whittaker the Development Director of Peel Land and Holdings who own Chatham Docks and who is one of the sons of the founder, John Whittaker.

A site meeting with myself and Andrew Mackness, one of our ward councillors, was arranged and the wood recycling and wood chip operation was explained to us. At that time it was only the dust that was an issue, although we had expressed concerns regarding the potential fire and health hazards. The stock pile of around 20,000 tonnes was exceptionally high due to problems in Sweden, to where the material was being exported for power generation.

This in itself was not helping the dust contamination on SMI but we were advised by Craig Bassett, the Recycling Manager, that this was a freak occurrence and that urgent shipping was being arranged to significantly reduce the size of the stockpile. We were also advised that operational procedures would be put in place to ensure that this never happened again and Peel Ports issued a statement to that effect which we displayed on the SMIRA website and notice boards.

Then came the smell, which has occurred as a result of the wood chip pile starting to react like a compost heap with the wood reacting with water used to dampen down the dust particles and causing hot spots and, in some cases, fires.

Both the EA and the Kent Fire Service have regularly attended site and made recommendations and these have been implemented by the management but
the situation has now deteriorated to the point where the material is being loaded onto lorries, and taken away to other sites to be disposed of for other uses. The stockpile is now reduced to around 6,000 tones and SMIRA have been informed this week that this operation will take a maximum of three weeks by which time, all the offending material will be off site and the smell will not recur.

SMIRA have attended a number of meetings with the EA and they are taking this matter very seriously and have identified it as a Category 1 incident, which is their highest level of severity. To this end they have agreed to make a presentation at the SMIRA AGM, which takes place at the Community Centre on the evening of Friday the 25th November commencing at 7:30 and, because of the concerns and anger of residents, this meeting is open to all residents and not just members.
Jon Griffin, the Senior Environment Officer of the Environment Agency East Team will be making the presentation and it is important that as many residents as possible attend this presentation and show the anger and concern that this problem has evoked.

In addition, and as part of the consultation process, the EA will be holding Public
"Drop - In" sessions, again at the Community Centre, on Saturday the 3rd December from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. and Monday the 5th December from 12:30 to 6:00 p.m.
At these sessions residents will be able to see the EA's Draft Response to the License application and discuss and comment on its content with the officers in attendance.
Again this is the opportunity for all local residents, not just SMI residents, to make their feelings known and enquire about the potential health hazards and general nuisance as well as what safeguarding and compliance regulations the EA intend to apply and ultimately enforce if necessary.

So make sure that you attend both the SMIRA AGM and the "Drop - In" sessions.

There are, in addition, a number of independent and EA initiated surveys involving sensors and sniffers currently in operation and these include seven such EA dust monitors placed around SMI. SMIRA have asked for sight of the results and conclusions of these surveys so that we can hopefully establish that, although there is no doubt a nuisance and discomfort element to these emissions, there are no long term health issues.

We believe that in the long term it is important to engage with Peel Ports and, to that end, SMIRA have initiated a quarterly Forum with Peel Ports at which all local stakeholders such as the Environment Agency, Chatham Maritime Trust,
SEEDA/HCA, Medway Council, our ward councillors and our MP can attend and review, monitor and discuss with Peel Ports and their tenants the ongoing situation on all these recycling activities such as to avoid any repeat of this very unsatisfactory occurrence.

Having established a constructive dialogue, and both James Whittaker and Andrew Mackness have played a significant part in this, SMIRA intend to ensure that this Forum is maintained, until such times as it becomes irrelevant.

David Taylor 05/11/2011

Odours from Chatham Docks - Update October 2011


ST Mary’s Island Residents Association Ltd have received the following statement from the Environment Agency:
The Environment Agency, which regulates waste legislation in England and Wales, is actively working with the owner and operator of Chatham Docks, Peel Ports, to resolve the current odour issues being experienced in the area surrounding the docks.

The root cause of the odour is from stockpiles of wood chip that are being stored at the site prior to onward shipment to Sweden where the material is used in the generation of heat and electricity. Recent movements of the wood chip, that had been on the dockside for longer than is typically expected, resulted in the release of odours associated with the natural degradation of the wood. These odours have been carried off site by the wind, and have caused a nuisance to those living near the site.

We have prioritised our efforts on this site and the activities that are giving rise to the odours. We have recommended a number of measures to minimise the smell. Peel Ports have plans in place to ensure that the material will be moved to Sweden as soon as possible and are bringing equipment on to the site to minimise the problem in the interim. These measures will include suppression systems designed to control airborne particles and odours.

Jon Griffin, Senior Environment Officer said "We understand that strong odour can cause a lot of distress to communities. This site and the reported issues are a top priority and we are working with the operator, Peel Ports, to resolve the problems related to their activities as quickly as possible. In the interim we would appreciate anyone who is experiencing odour and dust problems to call our hotline on 0800 807060."

Alan Dengate
Principal Communications Officer
Kent & South London and Solent & South Downs

Please report any odour or dust problems you experience to the Environment Agency 24/7 hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

Update September 2011

Please keep your dogs on a lead, and clear up any mess.

The message will be clear in the next newsletter and will highlight the need for dogs to be kept on leads in light of the increase in problems involving irresponsible dog owners.

Chatham Maritime Trust has advised:
The Council legal department are currently reviewing the possibility of “dogs not on leads exclusion zones”. This will however be a long drawn out process involving consultation with the police and other parties. Dogs not under control can, however, be reported immediately to a dog warden. The details of the Dog Warden Service at the Council can be found on:


Please click here to download a letter from Peel Holdings regarding their plans to redevelop Chatham Docks. They are inviting residents to view the extensive plans in the Dockside Outlet Centre, Sept 14th 9am - 6pm.

Please click here to download the area plan for this development.

Do not miss this opportunity to pass on your views and suggestions.


Arriva have attended various SMIRA meetings and they have listened to SMIRA member's comments, emails and suggestions. We are therefore delighted to advertise the new, improved and - incredibly for these times, cheaper service for St Mary's Island.

This will be under review on a 'use it or lose it basis' - so please spread the word.

Update August 2011

We have had a great response to the appeal for more volunteers to sit on the SMIRA board, and we were delighted to welcome over 35 guests to the recent SMIRA meeting. We were caught unawares and promise to ensure more comfortable seating arrangements for the next meeting!Anybody who was thinking about joining us, do come along to the next meeting on September 20th, and say hello.

We have been asked to publish this notice from CMT about the lifting bridge works ...

Notice from Chatham Maritime Trust -

We have received some lovely compliments about the conversion and repainting of the lifting bridge – thanks. It was not an easy task and various unexpected “issues” arose but the contractor FM Conway did very well to minimise the disruption.

Valuable feedback has also been received about the railings between the west side pavement and the northbound carriageway – thanks

We should explain that the original gaps in the railings were only to accommodate the barriers in their down position and allow the bridge deck to lift. They were not road crossing points. With decommissioning of the bridge the gaps were no longer necessary and they have been filled in. The bridge is a highway and road crossing points are provided on either side of the bridge; in front of the Ship & Trades complex and at the north end of the road. These are the safest places to cross the road and they have tactile paving, dropped kerbs and central refuges to aid safety.

If there is sufficient demand Medway Council might consider the creation of a road crossing point on the bridge itself but this might prove difficult to achieve given the existing provisions elsewhere and other constraints in respect of kerbs and the width of the highway.

We hope this explanation is helpful and again we thank people for their feedback

Update June 2011

Have you noticed the landscapers busy around the island recently?

Thanks to a concerted effort from SMIRA Board members and our local councillors CML have agreed to temporarily increase the manpower dedicated to landscaping with the aim of bringing the landscaping back to previous high standards.They will also review the ongoing arrangements for landscaping. Watch this space...

Update May 2011. River Ward Local Election Results;

Two Councillors elected for River Ward ; Craig Mackinlay (CONS) and Andrew Mackness (CONS)

SMIRA Winter 2010 Newsletter. Click Here to Download.

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