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Time Short for Threatened Garden!
Bennetts Water Gardens
Needs Your Help!

by Charles B. Thomas, Editor-in-Chief

September 1, 2006

Hi Folks,

Thanks to everyone for their support about that Waste Transfer station plan.

Today they gave permission to the applicant who threatened to appeal if he lost. Unfortunately, the Council felt that they could not risk public money in fighting an appeal. The Councillors tried to attach noise limits, but they were advised that no one present was qualified to set noise level standards.

They approved the waste transfer station in a 4-3-1 vote (4 yea, 3 no, 1 abstain).

As you might expect, the landowner of the site is a millionaire.

I must unpatriotically say the hearing was shambles.

On a positive note, many local people have made new friends with a shared distrust of this threat to their area.

We can get back to the gardens now. The waterlilies are unaffected by noise!

Thanks again to all who supported our cause,

Norman, Jonathan, Angie and James

Bennetts Water Gardens

Government officials plan to locate a waste transfer station and sorting depot adjacent to the internationally acclaimed Bennetts Water Gardens in Chickerell, England. Dorset County Council (DCC) Head of Planning Andrew Price recommends approval for the project pending a final council vote June 2, 2006* **. If endorsed as proposed, the project threatens a very serious environmental hazard to the serene, beautiful gardens.

The replica Monet Bridge was
commissioned in 1999 to commemorate
100 years since Monet's painting of his
Japanese Bridge called
"Water Lily Pond 1899".
Image from Bennetts Water Gardens

The gardens' Angela Bennett states, "Any contamination on the proposed site will drain directly into the groundwater that has a direct feed into our ponds. It will be an accident waiting to happen." In addition, anticipated noise generated by garbage transfer trucks would surely disrupt the customary tranquillity associated with a renowned water garden displaying a Certified Collection of the International Waterlily and Water Garden Society. 

Wildlife protection societies English Nature and Dorset Wildlife Trust strongly object to the Council proposal that they see endangering not only plants, but also the protected wildlife that inhabit the gardens. Despite their unwavering opposition and determined efforts by the Bennetts' attorney since last November, nothing has stopped the momentum of the pending threat.

Bennetts ranks as one of the leading tourist attractions in its area that includes a world heritage coast. This makes one wonder why DCC would disregard the value of an economic prize for the community in addition to its value to native wildlife.  
This is not the first time that DCC has disregarded pollution of the gardens. Last year, DCC built a new road along the boundary to Bennetts. Following a heavy July rain, muddy water runoff from the construction darkened the ponds to the extent that within two weeks no waterlilies were in blossom in the large main pond. The same thing repeated itself in August, normally the peak flowering time. The runoff continues this season without relief from DCC. Bennetts feels hopeless regarding corrective DCC action.

The lakes are the habitat of native wildlife.
Image from Bennetts Water Gardens

In 1959, World War II veteran and IWGS Hall of Fame Member Norman Bennett began converting an abandoned brick clay quarry into a thriving water garden nursery. Son Jonathan and wife Angela, along with grandson James, have transformed the nursery into one of the world's finest waterlily display gardens. They all have dedicated their lives to enhancing the gardens. Now fourth generation Bennetts show interest in the family enterprise.

However, after experiencing two confrontations with an unmoveable DCC, the senior Bennetts now wonder if hope remains for their family's beloved endeavour. Angela says, "We are so tired of fighting with the authorities," and the stress of it is a cause of health concerns. She continues, "We would be devastated to let go," but she believes that they are being forced to seriously consider "giving it all up." 

How can you help?
Email Andrew Price, Head of Planning, DCC at planning@dorsetcc.gov.uk.
Tell him that you oppose:

Application No: 1/E/2006/0448 Waste transfer station. Putton Lane, Chickerell

A flood of polite yet firm opposition emails from around the world by WGI members will open Mr. Price's eyes and the eyes of his DCC board to the importance attached to safeguarding Bennetts Water Gardens waterlily collection.

Please include your name, location and WGI affiliation. Time is of the essence.

* Update June 13, 2006:

The council postponed making a decision on the planning application until the applicant supplies a sound survey. The next council meeting is 7th July. Whether a decision will be made then we do not know.

We would like to thank WGI members for all their support. Our website has received hundreds of hits from the link on your website.

Best wishes, James Bennett, Bennetts Water Gardens


** Update August 26, 2006:

The proposed waste transfer has been deferred yet again and will be determined on September 1, 2006.

The developer came up with a second re-vamped noise assessment just days before the committee meeting. It concludes that there will be no significant noise nuisance to the water gardens PROVIDED THE DOORS OF THE STATION ARE CLOSED. On hot summer days they just might want to leave the doors open. Open doors increase the noise reaching the gardens by 20 to 25 dBA (their words and numbers).

We went to look at a similar setup on Portland [Island] just 5 miles south [where the operator states that they process] 500 tons a week. He says that if the one proposed near us starts doing 500 tons a week, then he will have to fire some staff.

Oh, yes, and it is noisy and dusty!

Do we believe they will open the doors to receive the contents of the skips (dumpsters) and then shut the doors before the machinery starts sorting the waste?


Do we believe they will shut the machinery off before they open the doors to extract the sorted waste?


Will our Tourist Visitors hear the dropping and loading and even crushing?


Best wishes to you all, Jonathan Bennett, Bennetts Water Gardens

Note: This is an effort to save and preserve an important horticultural site and collection, not an endorsement of a commercial enterprise.

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