Referendum over port expansion
CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating a decision to hold a landmark referendum on a controversial port expansion plan which will affect Shotley.Residents in Harwich will now be able to vote on whether they support or oppose Hutchison Whampoa's proposal to build a deep-water container port on Bathside Bay after the town council agreed to hold the referendum.
CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating a decision to hold a landmark referendum on a controversial port expansion plan which will affect Shotley.
Residents in Harwich will now be able to vote on whether they support or oppose Hutchison Whampoa's proposal to build a deep-water container port on Bathside Bay after the town council agreed to hold the referendum.
Jenni Meredith, spokeswoman for campaign group Residents against Port Expansion, said it was "excited" about the prospect of the referendum.
"The environmental impacts of this scheme will be huge. This is not some run-of-the-mill conservatory extension application we're talking about," she added.
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"The council has to treat it differently. Now we're taking democracy back to the people and it gives us a chance to have a bit more control over our futures.
"We also need the council to arrange a public meeting prior to the vote to allow people to have a proper debate. Even, if we don't win the referendum, at least it gauges public opinion. People in Mistley and Shotley are also greatly affected – they should do what we're doing."
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More than 60 campaigners opposed to the port expansion attended a meeting of Harwich Town Council, waving placards and demanding the right to vent their fury against the planned development.
Councillors had been due to decide on their recommendations on the proposal to Tendring District Council, which has been granted extra time to make a decision on the scheme.
But in recognition of the strength of feeling, the town council decided to defer its decision to allow for the landmark public ballot to take place.
Although the outcome of the vote will not be binding on the decision-makers at Tendring District Council, they will be obliged by law to consider the strength of any opposition.