Complaint made to council over isle hedgerow ‘decimation’

Concerns have been raised about the cutting back of hedgerows and the possible disturbance to nesting Photo Thanet Trees

A complaint has been made to Thanet council about the cutback of hedgerows across the isle.

Thanet Trees group, represented by Cliftonville resident Amelia Gregory, say the council maintenance team has left “a total mess, ruining habitats for wildlife and causing whole areas of Thanet to be blighted.”

The group is asking why hedgerow has been felled at the former Christ Church University campus at Westwood and also ‘heavy’ cutting back at Margate Winter Gardens – pointing to the discovery of a bird nest among the cuttings.

In a letter to the council Ms Gregory says: “Why is TDC decimating shrubs across Thanet during peak nesting season, despite advice from many different bodies to avoid all cut backs of hedgerows during this season unless urgent? Why has this been deemed urgent?

“Why have the hedgerows such as the one at Winter Gardens been so heavily cut back? What is the TDC policy regarding the maintenance of wild spaces for bird habitat? Why has there been no discussion with the public over how this space should be maintained and looked after – who makes these decisions?“

Winter Gardens Photo Thanet Trees

The group say there is evidence of nesting at the Christ Church site and that this has been reported to Kent Police’s Wildlife Crime Unit.

Thanet council say nesting birds have not been seen during council assessments of the site.

A council spokesperson said: “Thanet is lucky to have a wealth of open spaces and we employ a dedicated and experienced team to manage their upkeep. As part of its work, our Open Spaces team carries out regular maintenance to trees, hedges and shrubs on land we own.The vast majority of this work is completed during the winter and therefore outside of recognised nesting seasons.

“At any time of the year, before starting any work a member of the team will visit a site in person and conduct a thorough visual survey i.e.looking for active birds’ nests. In the event that there is evidence of birds nesting in the areas scheduled to be cut back, this work would be postponed until further assessment could be made.

“At the Kent Innovation Centre, in Broadstairs, nesting birds have not been seen on any occasion during the team’s assessments which have taken place over the past two years. Similar assessments were made on the hedges in the vicinity of the Winter Gardens in Margate.

“The decision to undertake work of this nature during this particular time period is based on issues raised by stakeholders using the affected spaces, including the need to mitigate against health and safety risks, particularly in relation to members of the public for whom our duty of care is paramount.

“Bearing in mind the levels of overgrowth it was not possible to cut these hedges back manually. We engaged experienced, qualified and accredited contractors who conducted further examinations before commencing work and would also know to cease activity if evidence of active nesting birds were spotted. It is anticipated that at this time of year, re-growth is likely to appear quickly improving the appearance of the site.

“There are no further scheduled cutting back of hedges planned, however if we are served a notice by the County Council or have a health and safety issue reported to us we may have to carry out necessary works during summer months, but as always following guidance to ensure minimal disruption to wildlife.

“We appreciate that this is an emotive issue, and can assure residents that there has been no intention to displace wildlife that contributes to our wonderful bio-diverse natural environment.”

Possible bird nest Photo Thanet Trees

Other areas of concern raised by the group include maintenance at Dell Gardens, cutting back of the tamarisk hedge bordering the bowling lawns at Walpole Bay and why there is currently not a tree warden for the isle.

Ms Gregory added: “Thanet has just 4.4% tree coverage, one of the lowest in the country. We have lost 50% of our wildlife in 50 years – largely due to industrialised agriculture such as that across Thanet. We have to protect what trees and green spaces we have left, as much needed wildlife havens.”

The group say despite council funding cutbacks cash is ‘wasted’ on the port instead of being used to preserve open spaces and wildlife which “will bring in tourists and create happy and prosperous towns.”

Find the Thanet Trees group here

19 Comments

  1. I absolutely agree, and have also emailed TDC about this. It is catastrophic when you find damaged bird nests amoung the wreckage. This is not conserving or protecting anything, and the fact that TDC say there has been no nests found, when the public have gone in afterwards and clearly found them is completely irresponsible AND illegal. TDC need to take responsibility for theyre illegal actions.

  2. Unbelievable carnage at this site particularly doing this work at this time of year there is too much devastation going on by the Council and development by builders we should be looking after our homeless people and our wildlife also there are laws for a good reason and this is a wildlife crime !

  3. If TDC employees cannot find birds nests in hedgerows when they are clearly destroyed by the cutting machine. Would mean that the person /person’s checking is either not doing the job properly or doesn’t give f— about the wildlife mind you with the cuts there making is it possible no one has checked before cutting.

  4. Absolutely discusting TDC. We should be protecting our wild life and here are your flunkies who obviously can’t see past the end of their noses. Cutting back hedges with nesting birds. Disgraceful. Hope wildlife police come down on you as you have on the wildlife. Still haven’t got your act together.

  5. Its about time TDC realised people are getting more aware and what they do in do many situations is accountable. Thank heavens for people that care and are prepared to give up their time to act.

  6. perhaps after this carnage as with other verges they could pick up litter left behing HA HA, or better still just pick up litter everywhere that blights our island

  7. If TDC looked after things on a regular basis by carefully cutting back at the right time of the year, instead of slashing when the Hedges are too big. This sort of thing would not happen.

  8. Thanet council and house Builders in Thanet won’t be happy until they have anhilated our last wildlife, chopped down our last trees and concreted over our last fields used for agriculture.
    There is a full scale assault on wildlife and trees in Thanet and the councillors with the power to stop it don’t care enough to do anything about it. If they had a heart and conscious Thanet councillors should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen.

  9. At the very least, TDC has been quite naive in doing this work at this time of year. The RSPB website makes it quite clear that it is an offence to damage a bird’s nest if it is in use or being built. RSPB recommend that hedges and so on should not be cut between March and August, the main nesting season.
    At the very least, TDC could have pruned outside these dates, or posted notices of intent asking people to report if they know of any nesting birds in the hedges in question.

  10. Every single comment that I have read our right the council obviously do not care I don’t believe for 1 minute they have made an inspection before cutting, everything’s been said that can be said about this absolutely disgusting so I will not say any more regarding that, come on let’s get them prosecuted thay have broken the law and it is law so let’s do something.

    • TDC probably did inspect for nesting birds (as they claim), but they neglect to say when. I would be willing to put money on the fact that they inspected during the winter when
      1. there was no foliage
      2. there were no nesting birds.

  11. I don’t think it’s reasonable to dismiss TDC’s statement to the effect that they did carry out an inspection, just because it fits your argument!
    I understand that the circumstances have been reported to the police. Let’s see what happens.

  12. Hedgerows and trees all over the UK are being cut back because of the interference it causes the nightmare that is 5G. Look what happened with the trees in Sheffield, normal contracts included the removal of thousands of trees.

  13. Who is their expert on the nesting habits of birds ? What are his qualifications ? Does he exist ? Their Tree Officer was felled during their last cuts . Who’s next ? The last person in their Offices who listens to what the Council Tax payers say ?

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