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Work stops in Beacon Road, Chatham, after concerns about wildlife and nesting birds

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Concerned residents contacted police after a housing developer started clearing the way to woodland described as a wildlife haven.

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When work started on the site in Beacon Road, Chatham, more than 20 complaints were made to Medway Council.

Residents contacted the council and police after concerns about work in Beacon Road, Chatham
Residents contacted the council and police after concerns about work in Beacon Road, Chatham

When the bulldozers started up again on the following week, residents contacted police.

The next day, the contractor on site was told clearing any shrubs or trees during bird nesting season was illegal. All work then stopped.

The diggers had been working on land between homes in Beacon Road, next to number 159 which goes uphill to the woodland.

The landowners have denied that any trees were cut down and says the work being done was to clear a path to the woodland for ecological surveys to be carried out.

Cllr Simon Curry, ward councillor for Luton and Wayfield and a consultant specialising in country parks and nature reserves, was the one who spoke to the contractors at the site.

Cllr Simon Curry raised his concerns
Cllr Simon Curry raised his concerns

He said: “The law is clear on clearing sites that have a wildlife interest, in particular during breeding season. If it is done when you are aware that there is a wildlife interest, it is illegal and you can be fined quite heavily.

“As soon as I spoke to the contractor and pointed out that it was bird breeding season and there could be protected species in the woodland, they stopped work.”

Tracey Thorne lives in Beacon Road and said the woodland is a haven for wildlife.

She added: “They were clearing a path up to the woodland. It was about 20ft wide and we were told it would be going up to the top of the woodland – about 150ft and then along both sides.

The site before work began Picture: Google
The site before work began Picture: Google

“They said it was to gain access so ecological surveys could be carried out – but the damage could already have been done.

“It is a massive environmental issue. They could be disrupting a whole eco system. There are nesting birds there, and protected species including mating cuckoos, slow worms, newts and bats. The woodland has been untouched for 30 years.

“The builder sat in his bulldozer and said he would move any wildlife if he saw it. When asked how he would do this he commented on not moving every snail for a hippie.”

Cllr Curry added: “There are birds nesting there and residents say there are bats too, there are reptiles such as slow worms and lizards, and I also would think there would be a lot of invertebrates, some that may be protected.

The woodland runs behind homes in Beacon Road and the path being cleared was next to number 159
The woodland runs behind homes in Beacon Road and the path being cleared was next to number 159

“I think the wildlife interest there is really high. It links to Luton Rec where there is a wildlife corridor with considerable interest. If we can get it protected to stop any development that would be fantastic but that is the bigger picture.”

The developer has had pre-application discussions with Medway Council’s planning department but has yet to submit a planning application.

A spokesman for the landowners said they were acting on advice to clear a path to the woodland so ecological surveys could be carried out as the site was inaccessible.

He added: “We made the decision to stop the work until we know any further. We are waiting to hear what we can and cannot do on the site and what we can during nesting season. Until then, nothing further will be done on the site.

Work has now stopped at the site
Work has now stopped at the site

“We did not cut down any trees. It was undergrowth and brambles. We had only got about 100 yards up before we stopped work.”

Medway Council said it has reminded the developer that no planning permission has been granted for the site and that any planning application submitted must be accompanied by an ecological survey.

The council has also reported the matter to the police but the police are taking no further action.



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