Wildlife fears af­ter round­about cleared

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Nick Lil­li­tos nlil­li­tos@thek­m­group.co.uk

NOW you see don’t.

These two star­tling pic­tures show what a dif­fer­ence chain­saws and a few hours have made to the veg­e­ta­tion at the Drovers round­about.

On Tues­day morn­ing the round­about’s iconic cow sculp­tures were hid­den away be­hind bushes but later the same day they were all that was left stand­ing af­ter work­men stripped away all the trees and un­der­growth on the round­about.

Nearby res­i­dents are fu­ri­ous over the “dev­as­ta­tion” of trees and wildlife mak­ing way for road widen­ing and wa­ter­pipe projects at the Drovers round­about, the nearby M20 junc­tion 9 round­about and other roads in the area.

De­spite ear­lier protests to Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil over the pro­posed widen­ing scheme by Kent High­ways, tree cut­ting has gone ahead, leav­ing whole swathes stripped of veg­e­ta­tion.

All that re­mains of the once

it... now you rich green­ery are piles of chopped up tree trunks, neatly stacked up as log piles while wait­ing to be re­moved.

Jenny Hor­ton, who lives in Meadow Road, near the Drovers round­about said: “The clear­ance has been ex­ces­sive. It’s hor­ren­dous.

“You look from your win­dow and all that re­lax­ing green­ery has gone, now all we have is a busy road scene full of con­gested traf­fic.

“What ef­fect this is hav­ing on wildlife there I can’t be­gin to imag­ine.”

Some 51 res­i­dents from Meadow Road re­cently sent in a pe­ti­tion to Ash­ford coun­cil protest­ing that road noise lev­els would rise as the green­ery pro­vided a bar­rier be­tween the road and their houses.

Res­i­dents in Maid­stone Road, which leads off from the round­about, are also an­gry.

Ja­son Hamil­ton, 38, an en­gi­neer, said: “If you look out of the win­dow now the car­riage­way looks like a mo­tor­way. I would drop my three-year-old daugh­ter Mi­lan off to nurs­ery and she used to get ex­cited look­ing out for the rab­bits, now you don’t see them any more.

Dis­ap­peared

“Driv­ing is also a night­mare in this area. All the road­works have slowed ev­ery­thing down. It used to take me five min­utes to get to Eureka Park and now it takes at least 20 min­utes.”

Ble­rina She­haj, 30, a nurs­ery nurse, said: “You look out and ev­ery­thing looks empty. Trees have dis­ap­peared and all we have is con­crete roads. My old­est child keeps ask­ing me ‘mummy, where have all the trees gone?’.”

As fury mounts a KCC spokesman sought to al­lay fears over the dis­ap­pear­ing green­ery, prom- ising it would be re­placed.

“Pri­mar­ily the trees are be­ing re­moved to ac­com­mo­date the widen­ing of the ex­ist­ing car­riage­way, and to en­able works to be car­ried out.

“A full re­place­ment scheme of land­scap­ing is pro­posed and de­tailed de­signs for this are be­ing pre­pared. They will be in­tro­duced upon com­ple­tion of the road­works.

“Ad­di­tion­ally Drovers round­about is also due to be cleared and re­planted with a new land­scap­ing scheme.”

De­spite re­as­sur­ances that the green­ery will ‘re­turn’ res­i­dents are concerned for wildlife, in­clud­ing rab­bits of­ten seen at the junc­tion 9 round­about.

Janet Hal­libur­ton, from Ash­ford, said: “Who al­lowed this to hap­pen when the birds are nest­ing and in some cases have chicks in their nests? This is a disgusting way to be­have when the wildlife has had a tough win­ter and now man is de­stroy­ing their habi­tat.

“I do hope the plan­ners can sleep at night.

“A child of four could tell you that birds are nest­ing at this time of year. Last night on my way home I ob­served three mag­pies sit­ting on the chopped up trees.”

Ecol­o­gist

A KCC spokesman said: “If we come across rab­bits dur­ing con­struc­tion, they will be treated with care.”

Ash­ford’s Fu­ture says that with­out the “im­prove­ments” traf­fic growth would in­crease the town’s ex­ist­ing prob­lems.

“The work will mean no fur­ther changes should be needed for at least 20 years,” said a spokesman.

CAM­PAIGN­ERS wor­ried about the loss of the cow sculp­tures on the Drovers round­about have set up a Face­book group.

The so­cial net­work­ing site’s page, Save the Cows on the Cow round­about, has mem­bers sug­gest­ing they chain them­selves to the cows to stop their re­moval. How­ever it has al­ready been an­nounced by coun­cil leader Paul Clokie that the sculp­tures would be spared when im­prove­ment work be­gan. They will, how­ever, have to be placed in a dif­fer­ent po­si­tion.

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, Kent TN24 8JR, email ken­tish­ex­press@ thek­m­group.co.uk or call our news­room on 01233 623232.

Pic­ture: Gary Browne PD1704810

Trees and veg­e­ta­tion turned to stumps at the round­about

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