Members of the Thanet Trees group will be holding a protest outside the Thanet council offices in Margate this Thursday (July 11).
The demonstration will take place at 6pm, prior to the full council meeting at 7pm, and is aimed at demanding a full biodiversity strategy and accountability for all actions past, present and future.
The group hopes members of the public will join them and is appealing for people to create banners. They also hope to make a giant bird to represent those disturbed during the cutback of hedgerows at Margate Winter Gardens last month.
A group spokesman said: “It would be amazing if we could make this protest as colourful and newsworthy as possible. Don’t forget to also wear green, a sash or armband would do.”
The group has pledged to take direct action to protect the isle’s natural environment and wants Thanet council to reorganise its open spaces department.
The group also says qualified officers with arboriculture knowledge need to be brought into the authority to urgently develop and oversee the implementation of an overall environmental strategy to manage and improve the diminishing tree cover and green spaces in Thanet.
Thanet Trees, which was set up in January 2018, has gained growing membership since the hedge row exploded after the hedge cut backs by Thanet council that the group said destroyed wildlife habitats and disturbed nesting birds. A complaint was made to Kent Police’s wildlife unit but the force decided no further action was necessary,
The scale of the work was also criticised by the RSPB, which said: “Had Thanet District Council sought our advice before commencing these works, we could have discussed how best to do any essential works while minimising the disturbance to wildlife.
“Our advice on hedge and tree maintenance is always to avoid undertaking this during the sensitive breeding season (March-August for most bird species). Given the current climate crisis, the RSPB strongly advises that people should be doing more to protect nature, not just the legal minimum. We want to see better planning for nature, to ensure that hedgerow and tree works are always done outside of the breeding season and those that are unavoidable, for health and safety reasons, should be done in the least disruptive way to wildlife.”
Thanet council said the area was checked for nesting but authority leader Bob Bayford and deputy leader Ash Ashbee have since ordered an internal review.
Cllr Bayford later reassured residents that Thanet District Council is committed to safeguarding the coastline and countryside and no further tree or hedge maintenance work will be carried out by the council until October 1. The only exception would be if there are any urgent health and safety concerns or notice served by Kent County Council under the Highways Act
A Thanet Trees spokesperson said: “We want a better strategy and management of biodiversity and landscape, for the benefit of humans, plants and wildlife.”
Members have split into groups with the aims of objecting to planning applications, researching and applying for TPOs and organising tree warden training.
Members are also involved in Street Trees for Ramsgate group and there is interest in creating something similar in Margate.