Exclusive: New group to ‘re-green’ Thanet with over 1,200 trees thanks to successful funding bid

ITTWI SUCCESS: Luke Evans. Dr Sally Dixon from RSP. Cllr Ash Ashbee. Peter Hasted and Stephanie Nsom with her little ones

More than 1,200 trees will be planted at six sites in Thanet in a £1million project headed up by new group The Isle of Thanet Trees and Woods Initiative (ITTWI)

The ITTWI has successfully secured £525,000 from the Urban Tree Challenge Fund – overseen by the Forestry Commission – plus £100,000 funding support from RiverOak Strategic Partners. alongside £430,000 labour ‘in kind,’ making a total project value of £1,055,000.

The group is made up of St Anthony’s School teacher and Thanet Community Forest School founder Luke Evans, Colourful Margate lead Stephanie Nsom; Peter Hasted of the Sunken Garden Society; Steve Darling of Dane Valley Woods and Thanet councillor Ash Ashbee. The group is supported by isle volunteers, businesses and community organisations.

Thanet Community Forest School fun

The Urban Tree Challenge Fund was set up in response to the Government’s 25 year Environmental Plan as a means of re-greening some the UK’s districts with low tree canopy coverage.

Thanet has the lowest tree canopy out of any district in the whole of the UK with just 4.4%. In comparison, London has a 29% tree canopy.

The ground-breaking ITTWI project will plant trees across the six sites at Dane Valley Woods; George Park; Dane Park; The Sunken Gardens Westbrook;Dane Valley Green and the Dane Valley Woods old landfill site, resulting in a significant positive environmental and health impact. It is thought to be the biggest tree planting project to ever take place in Thanet.

Sunken Garden crocus planting Photo Carl Hudson

ITTWI submitted the bid, enabled by the financial pledge from RSP and the support of Thanet District Council, to the Forestry Commission in July. It has now been confirmed that the application has been successful.

The funding means in excess of 1,200 trees of various varieties and maturity will  be planted over a period of two years and maintained for their early years. The programme will count towards a large reduction in Thanet’s CO2 emissions, also helping to improve the quality of life and health of local communities and enhance the conservation and sustainability of the environment.

Dane Park litter pickers from Colourful Margate Photo John Horton

A spokesperson for ITTWI said: “The ITTWI team is excited to be playing a major part in providing a positive outcome for the expansion of trees and woodlands in Thanet.

“The planting and maintenance programme will require a significant contribution from the local communities to ensure a successful outcome for the project.”

Over the next couple of weeks, ITTWI will closely liaise with TDC and its partners to set-up the required structures and processes in order to deliver the planting of the first hundreds of trees by March 2020. ITTWI will organise the planting events and ensure everyone has an opportunity to contribute.

Luke Evans, who is the lead applicant, said: “We have all put a great deal of time and effort into this project behind the scenes and it is amazing to see it all come together, especially at this time of the year as it is our Christmas present to the people of Thanet.

“I would like to thank everybody who has been involved with ITTWI to date and look forward to working with more and more people in our local and wider community as this project keeps growing.

Dane Valley Woods’ volunteers

“Please follow us on social media and in the news for updates of all our planting times and dates as we will be needing as much support from the community as possible to deliver the largest tree planting project in Thanet’s history.”

Frances Tophill (pictured below with Luke Evans), who presents BBC Gardeners World alongside Monty Don, has agreed to be the patron of ITTWI.

She said: “Trees are fantastic beings. Not only do they look amazing, they house thousands of species that rely on the food and shelter they provide. And I strongly believe that includes us.

“To live and work and visit a space that is filled with bird song and rustling leaves, colour and escape from the bustle of the world around us nourishes all our lives.

“The work that ITTWI is doing will create beauty and a haven for nature in an area that so desperately needs it. I’m proud to be a part of a project that makes Kent greener, educating and enriching the lives of the people as they interact with the natural world right on their doorstep.”

Director of RiverOak Strategic Partners, Niall Lawlor added: “RSP is committed to investing in the long term future of Thanet – not just in the airport, but in its people, communities and the environment too. We are delighted to be involved in the Isle of Thanet Trees and Woods Initiative to increase the amount of woodland across six key sites in Thanet, with all of the attendant health, social and environmental impacts this will bring.

“We see this as a tangible opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to reopening Manston in a balanced and responsible way and look forward to participating in the delivery of the initiative in the months and years ahead.”

The official ITTWI launch event will take place at Dane Park on January 11 and Frances Tophill will plant the first tree.

The ITTWI partner organisations aim to work towards the group becoming a lead charity in Thanet responsible for significant tree planting.

Planting plans

Thanet Community Forest School site – 500 large trees
Dane Valley Woods – 50 large trees
Dane Valley Green – 350 large trees
Dane Park – 300 large trees
George Park – 50 large trees
Sunken Gardens – 10 large trees

Find ITTWI on facebook here


    • Best bit of irony for days- RSP saying they care about the natural environment.

      If people think there are too many cars in Thanet, why haven’t residents been lobbying for a big improvement in public transport?

  1. Dr Sally Dixon appears to have gone from being an “independent” “aviation consultant” to talking to people in Dover about skills for RSP to now being a spokesperson for RSP’s community outreach.

    That is 3 very different jobs with very different skill sets that all seem to have gone to one person.

    It is debatable that she is qualified for any of them.

    What is not debatable is RSP is still yet to to employ a single person in Thanet after nearly 5 years.

    • Regarding RSP employing people of Thanet after 5 years , as they have not owned the Airport for a year are still awaiting the outcome of the DCO , what work could the offer at present? And if they had you would not necessarily know , so what do you know ? Obviously very little , and a lot less than Dr Dixon ! and your qualifications to make these remarks are?

      • Samara’s right- RSP haven’t done very well, have they? With all their money and expertise they should have been in possession of the ex-airport years ago, instead of those out-and-out cads Musgrave and Cartner. Fancy wanting to build a mixed-use development with housing and workplaces! In this day and age! What a silly idea! It’s obvious that what the zeitgeist requires is a bloody great cargo hub airport. Retro is very in these days,after all, so the dirty old cargo planes will, in a way, be bang up-to-date.

      • I think if RSP were to employ anyone, then the likes of SMAa would be trumpeting the fact all over the media. Absence of such orchestral overture suggests that, to date, the length of Thanet’s unemployment list has not been shortened by any activity of RSP’s.
        And as to knowing a lot less than Sally Dixon: quite difficult to achieve. Consider her dismal efforts at KCC, when Louise Congdon of York Aviation smashed up Dr Dixon’s case.
        Fair enough you can’t criticize Dr Dixon for failing to understand RSP’s business case: they don’t have one.

      • What work could RSP offer at present? Well community liaison would be a good start, given the significant issues and.devaststing impact on our communities. And since they’re still dangling the carrot of the thousands of jobs and aporenticeships they’re apparently going to create, they really should have had a team of qualified people employed in skills development initiatives at least two years ago if they were to have any hope of actually filling those roles. But since the jobs they have.promised will never actually materialise I guess they thought why bother?

  2. Given RSP want to fly 17,000 old cargo planes directly over Ramsgate (the only airline at the recent Aviation focus group held by RSP in Margate was the cargo airline Magma Aviation whose average fleet age is 25.8 Years. This can be viewed on the CAA website).

    I am not sure what 0.07 of a tree per cargo flight will do for the air in Ramsgate or for the wider environment. Particularly with the trees all being planted in Margate.

    Particulate matter and air quality is a grave concern with RSP’s dependency on HGVs and fuel tankers. Trees in Margate or anywhere are not going to clean the particulates and greenhouse gases away.

    Given that TDC took a number of years to support the Ramsgate Ellington Park bid and has been very slow to match fund other Ramsgate bids this is not a particularly great initiative of community outreach by TDC or RSP.

    WWF Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth issued a joint statement that they do not support carbon off-setting.

  3. Shouldn’t this article read “re-wilding Margate’ instead of re-wilding Thanet?

    If TDC is going to support this to the tune of £450,000 of council tax raised across the district, why is every single one of the sites benefitting from the scheme based in Margate?

    • TDC is not putting in money. It is government cash and the pot was open to any group that decided to bid. Perhaps Ramsgate/Broadstairs will put something together for the next round

      • So who is providing the £430,000 labour “in kind”? I assume those labourers are not working for free? Who is paying them?

        • Thanet Community Forest School CIO staff and volunteers will be working an estimated 35,000 hours over the next two years and that is the labour in kind contribution.
          ITTWI is a community group set up and organised to improve the beautiful part of the country we live in. We did approach other community groups all across Thanet at the application stage but they declined our offer so we proceeded as the four groups you have read about in the article.
          I would urge people to be supportive of ITTWI regardless of your thoughts and opinions on Manston as we are planting more large trees in the next 2 years than have ever been planted in Thanet under one project. Further to this, next year in the next round of applications we would relish the chance to help other groups across Thanet apply for funding, including Ramsgate and Broadstairs. Let’s turn the negativity into positivity, dust off our spades and start planting trees for the future because if we don’t nobody will.

          • Manston ? People’s opinions on Manston’s possible airport really have nothing to do with ITTWI’s plans to plant trees. But people need to know how much funding TDC will contribute, if any.

          • Thank you for your clarification. I am happy that Margate will get more trees. Time will tell if, and when, there is any impact on other areas of Thanet making similar or related bids.

            I am still not clear what is Thanet District Council’s and Cllr Ash Ashbee’s involvement and contribution.

            The proposed actions of your corporate sponsor and its proposed new cargo airport, if successful, will result in 17,000 old cargo planes flying at 200-600 feet over Ramsgate.

            To be clear, that is big old cargo planes flying incredibly low over our green parks, open spaces, sports fields, the Royal Habour, our beaches, our town centre, our schools, our houses, our allotments and our gardens.

            It will also, if successful, result in a large associated increase of road usage by air freight HGVs, worker’s cars and fuel tankers.

            In all, the proposed actions of your corporate sponsor will devastate the future of Ramsgate and the wider Thanet.

            With all due respect your comment of –

            “Let’s turn the negativity into positivity, dust off our spades and start planting trees for the future because if we don’t nobody will”

            – is, perhaps, careless and thoughtless.

            It doesn’t seem to show any understanding of the reason behind many of the comments left by people on this page. In this year alone, an enormous number of people spent the better part of this year on an awful treadmill attending hearings, reading, researching and writing in opposition of your corporate sponsor’s proposal of a new cargo airport in Thanet with only road surface access.

            WWF, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have issued a joint statement that they do not support forestry carbon off-setting.
            It can be read here > http://assets.wwf.org.uk/downloads/august06.pdf

          • Luke – some questions …

            Who will be responsible for maintaining the trees after the 2yr volunteer period?

            Does Thanet Community Forest School actually own the land to plant 500 trees? Where in Thanet do they plan to find such a site? Who owns it if not them? How will it fit with the Local Plan?

            Will you or anyone else in the organisation(s) be taking a salary from this funding?

            On the subject.of sponsorship, it.is incredibly naive to accept any money from what will be one of the biggest single contributers to the climate crisis in Kent and think that people will be Ok with that. It completely undermines your project and core values – as does posing for a promo shot beneath a banner to promote a proposed new air cargo hub. I thought this piece was about a tree planting initiative? If you were standing under any banner shouldn’t it be your own? Or does £625k in funding not stretch that far?

            Turner Contemporary were roundly – and rightly – criticised for initially accepting money from Stagecoach as it did not reflect their core values. Similarly, organisations with any sense of values across the UK – and the world – are rejecting major donations from the likes of BP on environmental grounds.

            Taking money from RSP (if they ever pay you) and allowing yourself to be used to help promote their proposed development and the devastation it will bring is – at best – naive and at worst a disgrace.

            As for helping other areas in future rounds, it has already been pointed out here – quite correctly – that this is also naive. You have received £525k of a total fund across UK of £10m and you received this in the name.of Thanet. Do you honestly think Thanet will be receiving another share of this fund?

      • Who pays the £430,000 labour in kind costs? The way funding works is that will be matched funding from TDC. Who pays TDC? We do.

        Re funding bids please see my detailed comment below. Essentially this will block all other funding bids from other areas in Thanet because the funders will say we have funded Thanet to the tune of £525,000.

        They are using Thanet statistics and TDC match funding to get the money, it should benefit the whole of the district of Thanet not only Margate.

        • The labour costs are based on volunteer labour from people involved in the groups. TDC has no labour or financial input. They are offering support to the bid/scheme, so in terms of advice maybe for equipment etc. This was a first round bid and as I understand it the aim of the group is to help others to bid in the next rounds for different areas of the isle.
          The council bit is exactly what was said by the TDC press office, basically word for word.

          • Kathy, respectfully a direct and named quote from TDC confirming the level of and nature of the commitment from TDC; and a statement from TDC confirming that there is categorically no labour or financial input from TDC would be appreciated and appropriate.

  4. How absurd that RSP, the people behind proposals for a monstrous dirty aviation cargo hub think that planting a few trees will benefit the locals and they’ll somehow offer their green credentials through part subsidy?What an insult.

    I also agree, it’s hardly Ramsgate or Broadstairs is it. Why do the plans not include any extra trees in Ramsgate? Could it be they’ll struggle to thrive under the droplets of aviation fuel Mr Lawlor wants to sprinkle on them every 10 minutes?

  5. The problem is that because this initiative called themselves Thanet trees and said that the bid was for trees for Thanet, the next time anyone tries to put in a bid fron Ramsgate, Broadstairs and the villages, they will be hit with the wall of – we have already funded Thanet.

    This happens time and time again ÷ the use of the word “Thanet” to mean Margate. It blocks other areas of Thanet from getting funding. Anyone who does funding bids knows how this works.

    They are using Thanet statisitcs to bid for Thanet but not benefitting Thanet. Instead they are ring fencing the benefits for Margate.

    This is divisive and blocks other bids.

  6. All residents with a garden should plant at least one new tree in it in 2020. This is a serious suggestion. It doesn’t have to be a tree that grows very big, and it should be a native species that thrives in the local soil.

    • But don’t plant Leylandii. It’s definitely not a native species,and
      it’s bad for the environment- robs the soil of nutrition and (as it’s a conifer) doesn’t drop hundreds of soft, quickly-decaying leaves, so you will get no enriching leafmould.

      Also, it’s quite shallow-rooted, and susceptible to being blown over in high winds.

  7. The more trees the merrier. It doesn’t cost a fortune. Lord Nelson used to stroll down country lanes chucking acorns around.
    It doesn’t help when (reported on We Love Ramsgate) that someone in London Road cut down a tree to facilitate parking a camper van.

    • Does seem a bit steep. A quick glance online shows about £50.00 for a tree.
      I guess you pay more for a more established sampling.

  8. The usual anti-airport zleft-wing losers still can’t be consistent. They complained about noise, particulate and gaseous pollution yet deplore the planting of trees that mitigate effects that they anyway grossly exaggerated. Why? Because £100,000 of RiverOak’s investors’ money was put into it (not during the DCO Examination when it would have raised eyebrows as an attempt to skew the Examining Authority’s Report & Recommendations but after that was set in stone). They didn’t have to do this or to support a considerable number of other worthy causes in Thanet post-examination. They CHOSE to do this as a way of saying Thank You for the unstinting support of the majority in the community, not their few opponents. If other successful nearby DCO applicants had been as forthcoming, we might have seen environmental benefits in places like the Country Park at Pegwell Bay, perhaps even the re-seeding of the oyster beds and support to local fisheries and tourism not just there but elsewhere round the Isle of Thanet. Mranwhile what commitments have local housing developers made to planting AND MAINTAINING wide verges and avenues of trees along roads within and bordering their proposed or built estates?

    • Who on this thread is deploring the planting of trees per se ? Nobody.

      RSP’s involvement in this is nothing but a crude attempt to gain public support.

      • Marva Rees so if it gains public support through putting its money into the community, you are suggesting that as its crude they should not make any contributions ? So if that happens you will personally make the contribution to Thanet Trees!!

        • My answer to the first question is yes. My answer to the second is no. Thanet Trees is a separate group, as far as I know. But even if it is, ny answer is still no.

          • Actually, I also think people should not accept donations from RSP. It’s not the crudity of their approach which makes it immoral, it’s that they’re doing it at all, considering that they want (or so they say) to inflict inescapable noise and pollution on Thanet.

      • Is everyone who objects to RSP’s alleged airport plans a left wing loser, or are some of us right-wing losers?

    • So let me get this right. We are supposed to thank RSP for various empty community gestures in return for failing to challenge their ruinous plans? You do know this isn’t medieval England don’t you and Manston isn’t a political issue, despite your best efforts.

      Quite what is it with your obsession for cargo plane spotting?

  9. Let’s not be curmudgeonly over this, it is more trees for Thanet. Thanet still has a significant resource of grade 1 agricultural land, hence the lack of trees in much of its hinterland. Ramsgate is the most intensively developed of the 3 major towns and cannot be easily re-afforested as most of the land is occupied by buildings or infrastructure.Ramsgate needs a ‘green belt’ in its fullest sense and at £880 per tree even RSP,will find it difficult to fund enough trees to encircle Ramsgate and make sufficient headway against a massive carbon expenditure by all those promised flights.
    Donor fatigue regarding the ‘left behind’ parts of Thanet, such as Ramsgate is an issue; but the answer to that problem is intensive lobbying by our re-elected MP’s on behalf of all parts of Thanet,not just Margate.Setting aside the record of the last 10 years, it is time for a ‘healing process’and a levelling up across Thanet.

    • I don’t see any causal relationship between supporting the planting of trees on the one hand and closing the Stroke Unit at QEQM on the other.

  10. I think I live on a different planet to lots of people, I fail to see how we spend millions on the turner centre, now a million on trees , a million ! And people think it’s great yet we have so much around thanet that needs money spending on yet we pump millions and millions into a free to Turner centre and a million on trees …..our hospitals need money, our road drains are mostly blocked, we have little council houses, high homelessness, food banks, mostly low paid jobs ….so that’s spend millions on art and trees !!!

  11. Sorry but this article doesn’t make this very clear. Kathy is this “seed” funding of £100K dependent on the DCO being granted or not. Is it just a cynical bid to get the SoS to grant them the DCO or can you confirm the money has already been deposited in the groups bank?

  12. “Dr Sally Dixon from RSP” says the caption to the headline photo.
    I thought that Dr Dixon was lead consultant at Azimuth Associates, “experts” in aviation.
    I didn’t realise that they had branched out into arboriculture.

  13. Marva Rees Manston Airport and Airfield have been here since 1916 ( apart from Gloag’s aborted attempt to fill it with house’s that Thanet did not need) so if you do not like the airport MOVE ,it was here when you came ,it will be here when you go , and be here when you need passenger flights and deliveries of Amazon parcels that come in by Air Cargo, and in the next decade by electric powered aircraft even !. If it upsets you that RSP invest in the local area MOVE,

    • Amazon , give your head a wobble I guess you haven’t seen Amazons centre just of the M1 in the centre of England ?. It is a huge warehouse there is no way Amazon would move to the bottom right hand corner of England when they are based in the middle of England were any importer would want to be based.

      People need to forget about the time manston was a military base and was funded by us tax payers. As a stand alone airport it has bust 3 times , why ? Because it is in the wrong part of England with no decent road or rail network.

  14. I don’t see why anyone who doesn’t like a damaging proposal for where they live should move. Better to stay and do what they can to stop that plan from being carried through. I will never need passenger flights, personally, as I don’t fly anywhere and haven’t for decades. Nor do I buy things from Amazon.

    You, Thanet Local, are addressing me by name, so I speak only for myself, but I am certainly not the only person who finds being told to move offensive and illiberal. Have I told airport supporters to move near an airport as they’re so keen to do so? No. And I will not. Because that’s up to them.

    • Your failure to see the airport when you came here , is sadly your problem would you move next to a railway line if you hated train noise , I am not wasting my time any more on this subject except to say thank you RSP for putting money into the community when you are under no obligation to do so . My last word on this matter.

      • L knew there was an airport. But it had very few flights a day and I learnt that it had never been commercially successful. I lived next to two railway lines for over twenty years. One line ran at the end of my garden and the other ran above our street, at the front of the house. There is no comparison between the noise of trains and that of frequent flights just overhead.

      • When I moved here all I saw was the beautiful town of Ramsgate and something on Google Maps that told me Manston Airport was “permanently closed”.

        And I hate to break this to you, “Thanet Local”, but even today all I see is a lorry park. Now we know we’re definitely Brexiting, that’s all you’re likely to get for quite some time. And if you don’t like that, why not give yourself that same advice?

  15. Thanet Local if you want more trees move to the New Forest.

    I also think you’ll find Amazon et al land at East Midlands.

    Nobody wants to fly from Manston, I am not sure why that is so difficult to understand.

    The commercial airport is long since bust. A resolute and repeated failure.

    Us protestors on the other hand?
    Here to stay.

  16. Maria

    You are wasting your time with the pro airporters. Anyone with any business sence knows an airport on the bottom right hand corner of England is a no goer. It has no decent road or rail access, no access to the National fuel grid. So let them dream if and it’s a very big if it did open it would be bust again within a few years. The transport cost from here to anywhere in the country would put any haulage company under huge financial pressure. Where as being based in the centre of England makes so much more sence. Manston only worked as an airport when our taxes paid the raf to be here, but even they found out its wasnt good value for money and pulled out !!. Should have tried and got that new theme park to move they instead of being built on land by gravesend/dartford way !

    • Re the theme park, by the way, I think it is an appalling idea which would ruin the Swanscombe Peninsula, an important area for wildlife. Interestingly, the developers have claimed that the theme park would attract more visitors than all other English theme parks put together. Does this unfeasible claim remind you of anything?

  17. The main comment put forward by airport proponents is “if you don’t like it, move”.
    If they had any meaningful arguments in favour of aviation at Manston then they would have put them. But they haven’t. So they don’t.
    I wonder if others, like me, have seen through RSP’s current apparent conversation to environmental sensitivity? RSP has no intention of running an airport. There’s no way such an activity would make the sort of returns (or indeed, any at all) demanded by people investigating £100Ms.
    Houses, on the other hand, show a large and prompt return.
    So RSP’s apparent greening is just a device to ingratiate themselves with a community they been bamboozling for years.

  18. Yea but it might be better than an airport, because thanet is based on holiday day makers. If the theme park moved to manston it would save the swanscombe peninsula. It was just idea use of manston instead of houses. It might bring alot more jobs to the area. It wouldnt happen because the people behind the theme park I guess know putting it in the bottom right hand corner of England isnt great hence them wanting it as close to the main motorways just over the dartford crossing.

  19. Have RSP actually paid up or is it like the planning inspectorate’s cheque that was in the post that turned out to be lies. I wouldn’t get too excited until the RSP’s money is in the bank

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