Thanet council’s leader and deputy leader have called an internal review into recent ‘heavy’ hedge cutting at Margate’s Winter Gardens
The decision comes on the heels of complaints made to the council and Kent Police’s wildlife unit about the cutbacks to the hedgerows during nesting season.
In a letter to the council Thanet Trees group representative Amelia Gregory said: “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?”
The group say there was evidence of nesting at the Winter Gardens site and a complaint was lodged with police.
Thanet council said the area was checked for nesting. Kent Police have since confirmed officers won’t be taking the case any further.
The cutting caused outrage with many concerned residents saying heavy equipment should not have been used for the work and the result was ‘devastation.’
Ms Gregory said: “A disastrous decision was made to flail these bushes with a completely inappropriate industrial machine, without due checks for nesting birds, laying waste to elderly ornamental hedging that may never recover, and leaving a huge bird population homeless.
“These bushes were the home of starlings and many other at risk species, and were most likely the stop off point for migratory birds, exhausted after their long flight across the sea. Where will they live now? We demand an urgent review of TDC’s structure and environmental and open space strategies.”
Council leader Bob Bayford has now confirmed a review will be carried out.
He said: “I want to reassure residents that Thanet District Council is committed to safeguarding our coastline and countryside. Our priority should always be to preserve and enhance Thanet’s biodiversity and natural environment.
“As such, Cllr Ash Ashbee and I have called for an internal review into the hedge maintenance work carried out at the Winter Gardens on Tuesday,June 4. Although Kent Police have confirmed they found no evidence of any disturbance or damage to nesting birds and therefore concluded that no offences have been committed, we are keen to understand the council’s approach to this work, with a view to continuous improvement.
“I can also confirm that there will be no further tree or hedge maintenance work carried out by the council until 1 October. The only exception would be if there are any urgent health and safety concerns identified by our health and safety compliance officer, or if we are served notice by Kent County Council under the Highways Act.”
Salmestone Ward Residents Association has launched a campaign to raise a legal fund in response to concerns over recent hedge and tree cutting on the isle.
A statement on the fundraising page says: “We have come to the point that we feel we are going to need legal advice. We all have seen and read about the cutting down of trees and hedgerows in Thanet, the proposed Local Plan and the 17,000 + houses.
“We know that we need houses, but as a residents association we have to make sure they are being built to the letter of the law and to ensure Thanet District Council/Kent County Council imposes the letter of the law. But unfortunately, they don’t.
The money raised will be used not only to protect the residents of Salmestone Ward, but the whole of Thanet. Please give no matter how small.”