Mowing row breaks out over ‘destruction’ of wildflower verge

Mowing row Photo Thanet Trees

The Thanet Trees group is demanding a biodiversity strategy for the isle is put in place urgently following ‘destruction’ of a woodland wildflower verge at Northdown House and other wildlife habitats across Thanet.

The group says mowing at Northdown House eradicated a woodland wildflower verge ‘in its prime’ highlighting that 97% of wildflower meadows have disappeared since the 1930s.

A spokesperson for the group said: “This wildflower woodland verge was an incredibly important biodiverse habitat for wildlife.

“Cow Parsley and Alexanders in full bloom are essential food for pollinating insects, including butterflies and bees, during the month of May. For this reason there is a national campaign for #nomowmay. Between 1980 – 2013 each square kilometre in the UK lost an average of 11 species of bee and hover fly. How many insects lost their lives and habitat at this wildflower meadow at Northdown House?

“The woodland verge provides habitat for a host of other species in peril. It is hugely important commuting and foraging habitat for bats. Bats are a protected species and ecologists are calling for commuting and foraging habitat to be legally protected, since it is critical to bats’ survival.

Photo Thanet Trees

“Blackbirds, thrushes, robins, dunnocks and wrens rely on this habitat to nest and forage. They will struggle to feed their young if foraging habitat is destroyed during nesting season.

“Small mammals such as voles and shrews live amongst the flowers. Slow worms and grass snakes adore woodland edge habitat, which provides both shaded places and open areas for basking. These protected species are facing an onslaught of destruction this year across Thanet. We have anecdotal evidence of dead slow worms due to the decimation of habitat at Westbrook and Minster. It is illegal to harm or kill them – so what is being done to check for their presence before mowing?“

However, there have also been complaints of a lack of mowing at King George VI Park in Ramsgate.

Ted Bennett, a former grounds maintenance and horticultural expert for Kent County Council, said grass bordering on “two foot high” by the children’s play area needed to be dealt with and  growth at Government Acre also needs attention.

He said: “It is an embarrassment. I don’t ask for much but our park areas need to look decent. This is not an area of special natural interest, daisies and dandelions are not ‘wildflowers’. It is a place for people to walk through and children to play in. You can’t do that in two foot high grass.”

Cllr Steve Albon, Thanet council Cabinet Member for Operational Services,  said:“There is always a balancing act in relation to grass-cutting as some residents want grass cut regularly whilst others would like to see it left longer to attract wildlife.

“We have been working with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and now have two sites (Sunken Gardens in Westbrook and Foreness Point at Palm Bay) in Thanet which are cut less throughout the year to encourage wild flowers and bees.

“Grass-cutting has been reduced for most of the lockdown period, however some of our sites are now becoming substantially overgrown which will mean they will soon be too long for our grass strimmers, tractors and mowers.

“Not managing the grass, especially at this time of year, would also require us to hire specialist equipment to tackle overgrown areas which would then come at an additional expense to the council.

“It’s also important to ensure overgrown grass does not pose an unnecessary risk to health and safety as longer grass can make it difficult to spot things you’re walking through, such as broken glass or dog faeces. This is especially important in areas close to playgrounds.”

Photo Thanet Trees

Thanet Trees says the Northdown House site is not near a play area so it is unlikely there will be broken glass or dog faeces in overgrown. The group suggests paths could be cut through to enable easier access for all.

Thanet Trees has now submitted a number of Freedom of Information requests relating to mowing, biodiversity, funding, management and use of glyphosate weedkiller.

Thanet Trees called for Thanet council to commit to providing a full biodiversity strategy in July last year following a row about cutting back areas at the Winter Gardens site.

A spokesperson added:” We do not believe anything further has been done, and in fact we have still not heard any further details regarding the declared actions of a Climate Emergency declaration. As a local authority TDC have a duty to put conservation of biodiversity at the heart of their policies.”

Thanet Trees has also issued a plea for residents to water newly planted saplings in residential streets and a park which appear to be dying.

Trees are in areas including Princess Margaret Avenue, Dane Park, Northdown Road, Canterbury Road and Gloucester Avenue.

Find Thanet Trees on facebook here


  1. Looks like the Labour TDC, are just as bad as Tory’s were, at caring about wildlife in Thanet.

    • Indeed they Rob everything good and leave us with no wildlife…
      Bulldoze is their regime
      Bad enough with uncleansed streets.
      China cleanse them… Tdc don’t even sweep them.

  2. TDC like to bulldoze things… Caring about wildlife at Steve Albon.
    Lets have this biodiversity in place.
    I agree my hair needs a cut… Role on mowing mine x

  3. Good point… let’s all hug a tree and worry about flora and fauna while most of Thanet is being invaded by all these covidiots Boris has let loose. Get a life, save a life, the weeds will return.

    • There is ( almost) no doubt that the” “weeds” will return”, there is no guarantee however, that the wildlife dependent on greenery will. There is a NATIONAL campaign for #nomowmay which some councils are honouring. There is a need to mow some areas but TDC seem to have a slash and burn mentality not shared by all Local authorities. Also, mowing and COVID have no direct co-relationship.

  4. This group of tree huggers is full of absolute crazies. If their leader cared so much about the environment why does she drive her children to school everyday polluting the air with the toxic exhaust fumes. Why did she run a magazine that used paper. And she also owns and runs a huge holiday let that takes much needed family homes away from the locals that desperately need them.

    • I really don’t understand the relevance of your comments to the content of the article. This is an attempted personal attack on the person who has highlighted a very real problem of attitude within TDC. You are trying to say that in order to care about greenery, trees and wildlife that one also has to embrace a vegan, non-consumer non-driving etc etc life style. The two are not mutually exclusive. I , along with many others am very glad that she highlights these atrocities committed against our natural world, all done in OUR name. The article would not have been published if it did not have worth. Please keep your personal slights to the kitchen table or pub corners where it belongs.

      • Actually, I think Ms O’Connor has a valid point there regarding driving.

        However the fact that an article has been published in a local paper does not necessarily mean that its content is important. In this case , the content is important. But that does not mean that no criticism is allowed.Ad hominem attacks are common on the facebook groups I read (i.e. open ones) and are sometimes justifiable.

  5. Members of Thanet Trees could do their bit for the environment by digging up their concreted over front gardens and patios and planting meadow flowers and grasses where cars once had stood.

    • Don’t just pick on people doing good work in Thanet Trees, but everyone should dig up their concrete drives, it would help cut flooding also!

    • I really resent that remark not only because it is inane. I am a member of the FB group Thanet Trees and don’t have a front garden. Generalisations rarely work.

      • If you’ve not got a front garden, then you can neither concrete it over, nor dig it up again.
        Converting over of gardens is a very serious issue. Concrete does not support the plants on which insects depend. Concrete absorbs heat, and contributes the the “heat island” effect plaguing our towns and cities in the summer. Rain (and we’re having increasingly severe instances of very heavy rain) flashes straight off hard standing and contributes towards flooding.
        I would have thought that anyone who had a shred of concern for the environment would have understood the importance of not converting over the landscape.

  6. Funny isnt it when I was growing up parks were well looked after with hardly any uncut areas and wild life was fine. We all had grass gardens front and rear.

    Now people have paved front front gardens for all they 4×4’s and decking in the back. But to combat this some people want over local parks looking and overgrown mess. Northdown park was looking an embarrassment over grown uncared for, what must visitors think ?

    A park should be well kept it isnt a natural reserve. If the tree huggers have a problem start with all the people that cover their gardens in concrete and wood !

    • The park is a public space and cannot be compared with someone’s garden It is not necessary to manicure a park. With sympathetic management, swathes can be left unmowed whether near the edges or on slopes, There is a compromise to be found. I care about our environment in Thanet but would never call myself a ” tree-hugger”. That said its probably because I am too lazy to put myself out there. Some people have the courage of their convictions and should be respected for such.

      • A park is a park not a nature reserve. Shame when I was a kid in the 70’s the parks were always nicely cut and maintained. A credit to the area, now people want them looking like an over grown mess. They are large areas in northdown park that have been left to go wild now for years.
        I bet these same people that moan about grass cutting moan about tree pruning, moan about bins, moan about moaning ! Not all people in thanet want parks turned into a messy nature reserve and unmanaged

    • The problem is the coucil mow the grass so short it often struggles to live in the summer. Also we don’t want to do what we did yesterday as we are more enlightened now and know that because the open spaces are so scarce now what we have left needs to house so much more to preserve the biodiversity we have!!!! Just because it was ok 20 years ago to mow doesn’t mean it is now. Many councils have been leaving large unmowed parts in their parkes and verges for a good 30 or 40 years. Just Thanet then, that is still using this bad practice….

      Also so much land has disappeared to housing in Thanet we need these spaces more than ever for our bees and other insects, flora, etc! The insects feed hedgehogs, other small mammals and birds too. Maybe if the council stopped allowing so many green and mature be stripped bare Thanet Tree’s wouldn’t have to fight for every inch of biodiversity.

  7. A significant amount of front gardens have been converted to areas of impermeable hardstanding over the past few decades. As well as a wide range of plant and animal life losing their habitats (however small), this trend has increased the possibilty and indeed the actual frequency of flooding.

    As Tony and Mr. Chance say, Thanet Trees’ members could start by replacing their own hard front gardens with soft surfaces and plants, if they haven’t already done so.

    They could also get a little more realistic and accept that there is a need for woodland management and for pruning trees in towns and villages . From reading posts on their facebook page , one gets the impression that they won’t be satisfied unless TDC puts a TPO on every tree in Thanet.

    • Considering that Thanet has probably the least.trees.of anywhere in kent if not the Uk that sound quite reasonable to me! Is there a group on facebook I can join up to?

  8. It is very important not to cut verges at the wrong times, to increase diversity, allow wild flowering which encourages bees and to provide green corridors for wild animal movement. And in spite of what Steve says , it must overall be cheaper.

    • Yawn… another tree hugger living in a dream world. Look, I know you’re only doing this to get a response… well you’ve got one. The birds and bees have been and will be here long after us, in the meantime I’m more interested in my grandchildren being around after this pandemic so stop acting like a school prefect and get into the real world.

      • Why is the word ” tree-hugger ” flung around and used in its intent as disparaging? It is great that some people care about our environment here in Thanet. It does not mean that they don’t also have children and grandchildren and parents that they also want to see survive COVID. The two items are not mutually exclusive if you can keep more than one thought in your brain at once.

        • “It is great that some people care about our environment …”.
          I whole-heartedly agree. But “the environment” means everything around us, not just trees or grass. Each component interacts with the other components.
          There is no point in focussing on one particular aspect (trees, for example) whilst ignoring other aspects or even worse, doing environmentally damaging things. For example the property owned and rented out by the person involved, features a wood burning stove. How environmentally friendly is that? How many trees are chopped down to supply the fuel?

  9. Northdown Park is a park the clue is in the name. It’s not a jungle. The tree people seem to be confusing their role.

  10. When will the council start listening to people that have knowledge about nature and actually care about it? Why don’t more people in Thanet care about this issue? And why do they want to ridicule those who do?

  11. I doubt if some members of Thanet Trees would recognize a sycamore sapling if they saw one. nor do they seem to understand the reasons for pollarding street trees. It’s not that other people don’t care about. But the hectoring, cynical tone of many of Thanet Trees’ postings and comments on their website is very offputting.

  12. Why do people feel the need to be rude about others ideas and comments all the time. It’s the same old names popping up to have a dig at someone every time, it’s getting a bit monotonous. Have they nothing better to than troll?

    • Thank you for that. Respect always. The article would not have been printed if it did not have worth. I have rarely commented on any article but the initial comments were quite obviously trollish that I had to weigh in with some balance.

      • The adversorial tenor of this thread has possibly been encouraged by its title, using words like “row” and “destruction”
        I think a far more positive outcome (for the grass, if nothing else) could be achieved were Thanet Trees to engage positively with the council, rather than firing off endless FoI requests.

  13. This THANET TREE group is so NEGATIVE. HOW many Trees has Thanet Trees planted since it was formed? NONE. These are the same bunch of moaning people that are making the place unbearable with negative vibes to Cliftonville/ Thanet. Moaning about rubbish, trees the lists goes on and on but actually they do nothing to improve the place.
    I heard they tried to save a dead tree once they really are genius’s.

  14. Easy solution

    That’s have all our parks nicely cut and lots of flower beds etc
    Turn manston airport into a large nature reserve, with pathways etc.

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