Felled By Silence
Updated 24th May with full response from landowner which can be found here ⇒ Willow Wood Response
On the 21st May 2019 the Forestry Commission (FC) granted permission to allow coppicing and clearance at Hogs Wood (formerly known as Willow Wood), Sandling Rd, Sandling.
Tree felling at a greater intensity than 30% of the canopy (in all or part of an operational area) was not allowed as was made clear in the permission granted by the FC. If more than 30% was coppiced the FC state in the permission granted “it may constitute a breach of the thinning permission.”
The trees which were allowed to be coppiced were sweet chestnut, broad leaves eg lime, horse chestnut, birch and alder.
Coppicing began in late 2019 and came to light in Jan at first then late April/early May 2020.
In early May dog walkers and off road cyclists began posting information on social media that the owners of the land, Saltwood Estates Limited, a company owned by Mr John Jones and his wife Angela, may well have exceeded what was permitted under the agreed FC permission. It’s also looks as though trees which may have not been permitted to be felled, have been.
We have witnessed the felling of more than one oak tree in the given area, on a visit to the site yesterday (17th May 2020)
We understand the Forestry Commission have received a growing number of complaints and Folkestone & Hythe District Council have issued a stop notice on the 14th May, preventing any further felling.
The Forestry Commision have begun an investigation to ascertain why Saltwood Estates Limited may have exceeded the amount they were allowed to fell. Furthermore a road has been established a new gate installed along with fencing, to what end and what purpose is unclear.
What is clear is that the local Green Party have remained silent on the potential environmental damage done to the woodland, even though they are aware of it. The Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Lesley Whybrow (Shepway Green Party) remains tight lipped. We also note she remains tight lipped about the council continuing to spray toxic glyphosate in council owned play areas; along with a reluctance to publish the 2019 air quality report for the district after calls for its release by us and many residents
Like the trees, we are felled by the silence of the Cabinet Member responsible for the district’s environment. Their lack of comment and action on such important environmental issues needs to be rectified now.
The Shepwayvox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime
Doesn’t look like coppicing to me, just downright felling of all the oaks etc., Hope they’re going to replant.
It looks very odd indeed in such a beautiful woodland. We noticed some trees are burnt right to the top. Stop this now and investigate them it’s disgraceful.
There is a hidden Agenda here. Don’t be surprised if an application appears to build even more houses. Let’s not forget how FHDC bought farmland to secure an income stream from local farmers via rent. Two months later, a plan for 12,000 houses appeared. Skullduggery continues at FHDC.
Look forward to your next piece of non-fiction
I heard he’s going to use the wood to build a new death star
I’m glad you have brought this to wider attention. I have run through these woods several times in recent weeks and I was a bit shocked at the level of thinning.
I am fully aware of coppicing and natural regeneration, but this particular piece of management may have gone too far. I would expect to have seen more of the mature trees retained, particularly the Oak and Beech.
Of course there is Ash dieback to consider, and this is well used recreation area. As such there may have been a case for removal of Ash trees that were close to marked paths. But it is not clear to me why much of the area appears to have been clear-felled.
You say you’re fully aware of coppicing and then refer to ‘thinning’. Not the same thing.
You say you’re fully aware of coppicing and then say oak and beech trees have been felled. None have been.
A Coppice licence was granted for the coppicing of sweet chestnut, birch, alder, which are the only species that have been coppiced.
I am feeling more and more annoyed that I voted Green, motivated largely by the Otterpool Park project. In this case I am equally annoyed by the attitude that if you own land it is yours to do as you please with.
This would be the builder John Jones who lives in a substantial property to the immediate NW of the area marked on map.
What’s the coincidence?
2. Possible site for housing development
Does all this work mean that the Boxing Day run will be rerouted?
This is truly tragic. Now that the stop order has been placed (thank goodness), I hope the FC fines the perpetrators as much as they can but also that an emergency TPO will be placed on the remaining trees/woodland as TPO fines are potentially more effective.
If they have felled these trees in clear breach of the Forestry Commission permission the company needs to be prosecuted and then made to re-plant the trees.
Is Lesley Whybrow the dog that does not bark? Has she been seduced by the trappings of power or, is she living proof of the operation of the Peter Principle – namely that she has risen to the level of her incompetence? Only Lesley can enlighten us!
For reference, coppicing is explained here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coppicing
However the pictures ‘suggest’ that the 30% limit may have been breached which is the real issue here regardless of species and intentions.
Even if that were true, not one single tree has been permanently removed, they will all grow back, so people using words such as ‘destruction’ and necessitating replanting, are just showing their ignorance
Hello WH, respectfully could I ask you a few questions as I am guessing you are familiar with the site (I am assuming you are?) First the permission granted was only to fell 30% “coppice”. At least some of the trees felled do appear to be significantly much larger “standards”, not “coppice” stools. These standard trees also provide major ecological benefits (as well as potential profit when managed for sustainable timber over the longer term) and should be left out of the normal shorter term coppice cycle, and would normally be left to grow to full maturity in a “coppice with standards” system. This particular grant of permission appears to cover the felling of coppice only – not these much longer-term standard trees? It may take many decades to recover the ecobenefits of felling these larger trees, if these trees do re-grow they will never be the same quality standard trees again, and should gradually be replaced by new grown-on standards, so that the woodland remains as a sustainable resource level of coppice-with-standards over the long term, i.e. centuries. Secondly it has been suggested that among these larger trees, oaks and possibly beech have been felled. Could you be certain that no oaks or beech have been felled amongst these standard trees? Could you identify each the species of trees in the particular photographs depicted? Thirdly the felling coppice permission restricts the percentage of canopy reduction to 30%, do you agree that the FC limited the felling at any one time to 30% either across the whole area or part of the area? That would be to limit the impact of the felling at any one time, so that essentially the coppiced woodland retains its character as woodland, while partly coppiced, rather than clear-felled, and then you can come back some years in the future, coppice another 30%, etc, and maintain the coppice cycle as coupes over the long term – perpetually indefinitely. So do you agree that the license terms have apparently been broken, both in spirit and technically, and apparently deliberately or wilfully ignorantly?
Firstly, I wouldn’t pretend to have enough knowledge of woodland management to make a call on which trees to coppice and which to leave, so I would probably trust the competence of the qualified professionals who are carrying out the work. I’m not sure which species of tree you are referring to when you by ‘longer-term standards’.
Secondly, I do have enough knowledge to identify tree species and as far as I can see only one oak has been felled (the one in the photograph), which was only approximately 6ft tall as the main tree had snapped off some time ago. The remaining trunk was rotting and leaning over the public footpath. All other felled species are sweetchestnut, silver birch and alder.
Thirdly, I’m not sure anyone can calculate that greater than 30% of the canopy has been removed, let alone just from a few photographs. Nevertheless, the licence states: ‘Tree felling at a greater intensity than 30% of the canopy (in all or part of an operational area) may constitute a breach of the thinning permission.’ Note that it says ‘may constitute a breach’, not ‘will constitute a breach’.
Personally, if I did have reason to believe that the licence had been totally neglected, I would probably seek the opinion of someone who did have qualifications in woodland management for their opinion, before complaining about an industry that I know very little about.
Thank you for the update and the clarification from the landowner
Thank you for the clarification. This clearly explains why the trees felled looked substantially larger than coppice stems felled in a normal coppicing cycle, leading to concerns of felling large trees. It also suggests that the 30% limit in the FC permission maybe wasn’t actually a limit on the coppicing to be done, but perhaps an ancillary comment to the permission to fell. This led quite a few people up the garden path. Many apologies all round, obviously the landowner has been completely innocent of the wrongdoing implied! Lesson learnt.
It’s good to see an apology, but shouldn’t there be one emblazened across the website?
Keeping up with the Joneses –
This is not the only occasion that Mr John Jones has exceeded his authority regarding his land ownership.
Planning application Y16/1221/SH – 2016-11-11 Land Rear 2 Willop Close Dymchurch Kent
The KCC Ecology report extract –
‘However, we note that the site was recently cut down before the Ecological Scoping Survey was undertaken. Notable/protected species could have been present and works may have resulted in a breach of wildlife legislation. All ecological surveys must be carried out prior to any site clearance to ensure that any necessary mitigation can be implemented prior to works commencing if planning permission is granted.
In addition, we note that the ecology report submitted in support of this application has not sought for existing biological record data from Kent and Medway Biological Records Centre and as such the report is not based on the most comprehensive and up-to-date biodiversity information.
Following our records, bats and reptiles have been located at proximity of the development site at less than 140 metres away.’
The subsequent report produced by the council stated that it was ‘disappointing that the site was cleared prior to the Ecological Scoping Survey being undertaken.’
Comments from the local residents included in the most recent planning application for this land 20/1212/FH – 2020-09-10 have highlighted the felling of trees before the Ecology report.
‘The developer has already removed completely, a magnificent mature tree (after saying it would only be lightly pruned), that used to be full of bird song, removing habitat for nesting birds and which helped filter harmful pollutants from the A259. Presumably it wasn’t under a tree preservation order. There are many species still thriving adjacent, such as grass snakes, bats, toads, frogs and the occasional fox.’
Badgers are a frequent visitor, they often break through neighbouring fencing to gain access to their regular pathways.
Here is a good opportunity to revisit the ‘Willow Wood Response’ link at the top of this report ‘ We are a family business based in the area and we only wish to enhance the area, not spoil it.’
Leading on from this, the current planning application relates to a pair of houses to be built in a Flood Risk category 3, on the lowest point of the marsh, previous applications were refused. During the Napoleonic wars the area was identified as the perfect position to build Willop Basin as a method of intentionally flooding the Romney Marsh to keep out invaders.
Since this time, low level housing, predominantly bungalows of approximately 3.5 metres in height, have surrounded the land in question, which was previously a garden with a natural spring to the rear. The site is enclosed by 8 existing properties and their garden ammenities.
The proposed houses ridge height of approximately 11.6 metres (overbearing in relation to the existing housing) would be built on raft foundations which has become a popular solution to raise foundation levels to cope with predicted flood from natural hazards such as the nearby sea wall overtopping, surface water drainage (under increased demand from the nearby expanding caravan park) and ground water levels (subject to the tide and always high as the land levels fall from the main road A259 towards the marsh behind) The Willop Basin outfall is also a potential Flood Risk along with the aged Southern Water drainage systems which are problematic, and the river which runs behind the area.
The new developments on Romney Marsh – identified as a character area within council documentation – are built on raft foundations which are raised foundations to offset Flood Risk. These developments are situated on the outskirts of existing communities, as is the case at the new estate at the end of Dunstall Lane and the Sands development both in St Marys Bay, Romney Marsh, and the Martello Lakes Development in Hythe. However this style of raised housing would not be suitable in a cluster of existing low level settlement with only a few metres space seperation from housing on either sides.
The proposed houses would be built on the south side of existing bungalows and due to their three storey height in a low level existing development there would be excessive loss of sunlight especially during the winter months and excessive shadowing. Compounding this is the concentration of windows, dormers, decking and doors of the two proposed houses on the rear elevations together with the heights of the proposed houses facing existing bungalows will be completely life changing to the existing inhabitants especially as mentioned above, the natural sunlight will be blocked out.
Finally, the proposed raft foundations will be the height of the existing site fencing of 1.8 metres, in order to shield the proposed new houses living areas from existing properties the fences would have to be 3.5 metres high which is the height of the existing bungalows roof ridges. John Jones is the developer and does not live in an area identified by the Environment Agency as at risk of flood.
Here is another good opportunity to revisit the ‘Willow Wood Response’ link at the top of this report ‘ We are a family business based in the area and we only wish to enhance the area, not spoil it.’
Worse still, the destruction was carried out at the height of nesting season. I personally observed a tree cut down that contained breeding Little Owls. This alone was breaking the law.