Shepway Green Party is calling for work to clear vegetation and cut down trees on the north side of the Royal Military Canal at Seabrook as part of the controversial Princes Parade development to be halted.
The work is to prepare sites ready for the relocation of reptiles from Princes Parade but Shepway Green party believes that the work is premature and is requesting sight of the advice from the council’s ecologist to prove that the new sites are suitable and that existing wildlife has been taken into consideration.
In a letter to local residents, giving four days’ notice of the closure of the footpath beside the canal but acknowledging that the clearance work has already begun, Folkestone & Hythe District Council claims that it will be beneficial to several species, but it is unclear why it needs to be so extensive.
The council is continuing with the Princes Parade Development despite a vote in full council in 2019 reflecting widespread concerns about damage to local wildlife and heritage. Questions remain about the scheme’s financial viability and whether the seafront road can be moved so work to clear vegetation is at best premature.
Councillor Lesley Whybrow, Leader of the Green group on the district council, says: “A week after the council committed itself to a greener Folkestone and Hythe, I am dismayed at the extent of this clearance work. Development of Princes Parade hasn’t even got under way yet and its impact is already being felt on the opposite side of the canal.”
Councillor Georgina Treloar, whose motion for a climate and ecological emergency to be declared in the district was adopted unanimously in 2019, says: “We should be protecting biodiversity not destroying it. This action shows a disconcerting contempt for transparency and the concerns of Hythe residents. The council claims it is green, but this action is vastly to the contrary and I would go as far to say utterly hypocritical.”
Conservatives who control the council, supported by UKIP and independent councillors, justify Princes Parade on the basis that it will provide a new swimming pool for Hythe but last week again rejected investigation of an alternative location at Martello Lakes.