The destruction of Belgar Orchard

The destruction of Belgar Orchard

Local residents raised an alert over recent damage to Sandy Lane, then of the seemingly unlawful destruction of the Belgar Orchard (in nesting season), five members of the Tenterden Neighbourhood Plan (TNP) Steering Committee visited both sites yesterday afternoon. They found that Sandy Lane had been re-surfaced with three or four ‘laybys’ excavated from its west-side verge, in one case with obvious damage to tree roots.

A subsequent interview with the new owner of Huson Farm House, established that he had been responsible for this work, although he did not apparently buy the lane with his property. He claimed to have consulted other owners with entrances onto the lane, and that they approved his action – although he didn’t seem to be aware of its status as a bridleway. Faye Faiers of KCC PROW & Access Service has been notified of what occurred. The ABC planning department has also been informed by Tenterden Town Council.

At Belgar Orchard on Wednesday afternoon, the five committee members found an excavator heaping fruit trees onto a large bonfire. Two members told the driver of the excavator that he was undertaking an illegal action in clearing trees and undergrowth during the bird nesting season (it is known that nightingales frequent the site), but were ignored. After a large area of the orchard had been cleared, the bonfire of trees and undergrowth was left untended – and residents of Shrubcote, who had been troubled by the smoke, called out a fire engine on that evening.

woodland clearing at Belgar Orchard

One of the Committee members, has reported the owners for ‘unlawful work’ to the LPA and DEFRA. A dialogue with the landowner is required as soon as possible.

Following the destruction of the much valued orchard, one of only three remaining traditional orchards in Tenterden and a rather heavy handed garden clearance at Huson Farmhouse nearby with huge loss to wildlife and biodiversity, we wanted to bring to the public’s attention the importance of seeking professional advice when undertaking larger scale landscaping to avoid the loss of irreplaceable wildlife habitat. Advice can be sought from the following organisations (often free of charge) as well as other smaller local charities; interest groups and professionals:

We also want to thank ongoing endeavours by local residents, councillors and interest groups in the protection of Tenterden’s last remaining and valued green spaces, particularly for threatened sites such as the land north of Westwell Court, Limes Land and Rogersmead Wood (a petition now contains over 5,500 signatures).

TDRA Committee

Posted by Siggi Nepp
Monday 6th July 2020

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