We have seen the upsetting images of the hedging works undertaken at the Winter Gardens, Margate and share your concerns over the destruction of important wildlife habitat during the sensitive breeding season.
We've received messages from the public asking us to investigate this situation and we've been in conversation with both Thanet District Council and Kent Police.
We understand that Kent Police are now conducting enquiries into the actions of Thanet District Council. We will be looking to Kent Police to provide us and the public with updates on these enquiries.
The Police have responsibility for enforcing the law which protects nesting birds (The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) If you ever have evidence that a wildlife crime has been committed, please ensure that you contact the Police directly, using the 101 telephone number. They have informed us they cannot act on social media reports.
The RSPB is not the authority responsible for enforcing the law; our role is to offer expert advice on how best to protect wildlife.
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. As soon as concerned members of the public made us aware of the issue, we contacted the Council and made them aware of our advice and concerns, in case further hedgerow or tree works were planned. Thanet District Council have assured us that no further hedge cutting works are scheduled, which they have also stated in a statement they have released online.
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.
We have also updated our position on undertaking hedge and tree works during breeding season.
We urge local authorities and developers to read this before scheduling works at this sensitive time.
Our nature is in crisis and we all have a responsibility to do more to protect it.
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