Thursday, October 22, 2020

Potato Glean 22nd Oct 2020

Thank you to our volunteers on today potato glean nr preston over 300kgs collected and delivered to:
  • Dover foodbank,
  • Dover Emmaus, 
  • Bechange Aylesham, 
  • Deal Foodbank, 
  • Deal Salvation Army, 
  • Meals on the Hill 
  • Hornbeam School
  • and Deal centre for retired. 

Big thanks to Trevor at Boundary Farm who hosted us today

Sunday, October 18, 2020

A Deal Litter Diary - #5 - 12th October 2020

My Sunday stroll doesn't take me far from home. I get to meet 2 locals: firstly a chap who is uneasy about litter picking, worried about what others may think. Don't be! People who stop to converse are kindred spirits in need of a nudge to join the battle to keep the gutters & pavements free of debris.

The second chats as I pick up 145 pieces of smashed hubcap - I had beaten him to it. The splatter of fragments had been irritating him so much he intended to bring out a broom. I saved this elderly gentleman the bother of clearing up neglect on his own doorstep.


Helen C

Friends of Betteshanger - Latest October 2020

Objection to planning application 20/00419 in response to further submissions on Ecology by Quinn Estates. October 2020.

The Friends of Betteshanger object to the above application on the grounds of Planning Policy and Ecology. This document relates to Ecology and is in response to:

The TN2 Ecology Technical Note, the Invertebrate Survey (11/9/20) the amended Open Mosaic Habitat Management Plan (9/ 2020) and the Senior Natural Environment Officer’s Submission (30/9/20)

It is now possible to make a meaningful assessment of the biodiversity interest of the Betteshanger development site. Most of the ecological surveys have been completed, including one for invertebrates, and they reveal a site, not just of importance locally, not just of importance in East Kent, but of wildlife importance at a County level.

We have consulted with Kent Wildlife Trust (Lucy Carden and Dr. Richard Bloor) and sent them a brief summary of the biodiversity interest of the site (see Appendix 1) as shown by the surveys carried out, and they are of the opinion that the site would be very likely to qualify as a Local Wildlife site.

This is what Lucy Carden, assistant Conservation Officer, from Kent Wildlife Trust said:

“From the records you provide within your email, it sounds like it is a particularly good habitat for a variety of species and could potentially be considered as a Local Wildlife Site due to the matrix of habitats present and the range of species present within. I would suggest it would largely meet the criteria of ‘WL3 composite/matrix sites’ and potentially, VP2 for its vascular plant composition and equally meeting criteria for both bird and reptile species composition.

I have had a look in our records too and can see that it is within our list of candidate LWS.

Pennyroyal and grasspoly for example are both listed on the Kent Rare Plant Register. Typically for a site to be designated for its vascular plants, it would need to meet a score of at least 150 based on:

- Nationally rare (i.e. UK Red Data Book) - 100

- Nationally scarce – 50

- Rare in Kent (Kent Red Data Book, 1,2,3 or K status) - 40

- Listed in the current version of the Kent Rare Plants Register – 25

With 7 additional plants listed under the Kent Rare Plants Register alone, this would suggest that it would be likely to meet this criteria.”

What is a Local Wildlife site and why are they important?

Local Wildlife sites are exceptional areas of land and some of the UK’s most valuable wildlife areas. They have a huge part to play in the natural green fabric of our towns and countryside. They make up a web of stepping stones and corridors forming key components of ecological systems and helping to recreate wildlife habitat on a landscape scale. They are identified and selected using robust, scientifically determined criteria and detailed ecological surveys. (see Appendix 2 for a link to the Local Wildlife site criteria)

How relevant is this to the planning application in question?

We believe that the likely qualification, as a Local Wildlife site, provides irrefutable proof that the Betteshanger site is of such significant ecological value that it should be saved from development.

Should Dover District Planning Authority be minded to grant planning permission they would be responsible, in effect for irreparable damage to a potential Local Wildlife site. In our view such action would be impossible to justify, particularly given the Authority’s statutory duty to conserve biodiversity under the terms of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act of 2006. Our view is that such action would constitute ecological vandalism.

We are of the opinion that the biodiversity value of the site has been downplayed by the applicant’s ecologists from the beginning of the appraisal process.

We strongly dispute their claims in the Executive Summary of the Updated Ecological Appraisal that ‘the proposals have sought to minimize impacts on biodiversity’ and that ‘it is considered unlikely that the proposals will result in significant harm’ (subject to appropriate avoidance, mitigation and compensation measures) For example, when the proposals are going to destroy Rare plants and invertebrates of National importance (as shown in the results of the Plant and Invertebrate surveys) how can it be claimed that impacts on biodiversity have been minimized, particularly when species cannot be translocated with any guarantee of success ? It is obvious that the proposals will result in irreparable damage or destruction of, a wide range of species and habitat, that will not be compensated for by the proposed plan for Betteshanger Park.

The downplaying is also evidenced by the disputed assessment of the Open Mosaic Habitat on the development site. Both the Natural Environment Officer and the Kent Wildlife Trust have come to the same conclusions about the assessment and claims for biodiversity net gain, made by Aspect Ecology, and shown that they cannot be justified.

This is of particular significance as the biodiversity net gain percentage and the compensation measures proposed depend upon this assessment. It has now been confirmed that under the terms of the forthcoming Environment bill, developers must show a 10% biodiversity net gain so plans need to show how this will be achieved.

Response to the Submission by the Senior Natural Environment Officer.

We agree with all the comments made in relation to TN2 an Ecology Technical Note.

We would also draw attention to the fact that the Invertebrate Survey is incomplete, as surveys were not carried out to assess invertebrate activity in the Spring (contrary to the advice from Natural England) Also survey efforts were focused on the development platforms, at the request of the applicant, so we do not have a complete picture of the site’s value as a whole for invertebrates.

Also missing is a lichen/bryophyte survey despite historical records which show the site could be significant for this group.

In relation to the plans for compensation at Betteshanger Park, we agree with the Natural Environment Officer’s view that the areas currently proposed for enhancement are valuable habitat in their own right. Removing species rich grassland to create open mosaic habitat does not, in our minds, constitute a gain for biodiversity. We are concerned that no botanical data has been seen for area R2 where Aspect Ecology propose scrapes to enhance OMH. Why is this?

Surely before any compensatory plan can be decided upon a full ecological assessment of the proposed area needs to be undertaken to ascertain its current value, as it may well be that to change it would result in an overall biodiversity loss. Unless this is done it will make a mockery of the whole compensation/biodiversity net gain requirement.

We maintain that the ecological value of the development site has been downplayed by the applicant’s ecologists. Are we now seeing the same thing happening with the area at Betteshanger Park proposed for compensation?

We agree that the proposals for creating Turtle Dove habitat are inadequate and we reiterate Natural England’s advice that plans should ‘provide like for like habitat replacements …in a safe position to provide a long term home’.

Given that bird species such as ringed plover and long eared owls have disappeared from Betteshanger Park as a result of human disturbance, we do not believe it would provide a ‘safe home’ for Turtle Doves as they are very wary of people, and given that park activity is bound to increase it would not provide a ’long term home.’

Dover District Council Planning Authority and its responsibility to conserve biodiversity.

The Government requires all public bodies to conserve biodiversity. This duty is enshrined in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. It is also required as part of the National Planning Policy Framework which says:

174 b) Plans should ‘promote the conservation, restoration and enhancement of priority habitats, ecological networks and the protection and recovery of priority species.’

It is widely acknowledged that we are living at a time of unprecedented crisis for the natural world and the Planning Officer and Planning Committee have to decide whether they can justify the irreparable harm that the proposed development will wreak on a potential Local Wildlife Site.

Our view is that they should signal their commitment to conserving biodiversity by rejecting this application.

Evidence of the perilous state of the natural world is currently coming to us from so many different sources that no one can be in any doubt that we are facing an ecological catastrophy.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, signed the Leader’s Pledge for Nature at the UN’s Summit on Biodiversity in September this year. This includes commitments to prioritise a green recovery post covid and deliver ambitious biodiversity targets. This is what he said:

‘We cannot afford to dither and delay because biodiversity loss is happening today and it is happening at a frightening rate. Left unchecked the consequences will be catastrophic for us all. Extinction is forever so our action must be immediate.’

This follows the television programme, Extinction, by David Attenborough and his use of Instagram, and a suite of other recent reports from the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Worldwide Fund for Nature and others, documenting the unprecedented damage the human species is wreaking on the natural world and how it is going to impact us all. There is an excellent overview of the situation by the BBC (follow the link in Appendix 3)

Out of the 90 public comments that this application had received by 1st October, I have counted 57 that state the loss of the site as wildlife habitat as an objection or concern. This does not include the petition. This shows that local people are well aware of the significance of such losses and we hope their concerns will be given sufficient weight in the decision making process.

There has never been a more important time for Dover District Council to show its commitment to stemming biodiversity loss.

The decision on the Betteshanger application provides an opportunity for the Planning Officers and the Planning Committee to show the local community that they take this responsibility seriously and are willing to play their part in stemming the tide of wildlife declines. We urge them to refuse this application.

Sue Sullivan for the Friends of Betteshanger

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Gala Apple Glean in Eastry 15th October 2020

Thank you to today's gleaning team:  Sonja, Heather, Lucy, Eileen, Faye, Sandra, Jill, Jamie? and Steve; who collected some 330kgs of gala apples today in Eastry

A big thank you to farmer David Bradley for inviting us today and shifting our glean from the bottom orchard

Apples are going to:
  • Deal Foodbank
  • Dover Foodbank
  • BeChange at Aylesham
  • Deal Salvation Army
  • Meals on the Hill
  • Talk It Out
  • Wellington House
  • Sandown School
  • Hornbeam School
  • Landmark Community Cafe
  • Your Kitchen Thanet
  • Sandwich Age Concern
  • United Families
If your local community organisation would like some of produce we glean or if you would like to get involved please email

We would also like to thank Dover District Council for funding our Gleaning Bags and COVID kit.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Walmer Beach Clean Sunday 1st Nov 2020

Our next community beach clean will be on Sunday 1st November from Walmer Green

You must book to attend this clean:

  • Six bookable starts
  • Max of 6 people per start
  • Full social distancing at start and finish
  • Equipment supplied and disinfected
  • Please bring own gloves

full details please contact

A Deal Litter Diary -No4 12th October 2020

I get more toots and waves along the Ancient Highway now - regular users recognize me as they slow down to pass. "Get yourself a litter picker and gloves! Join my mucky club!" 

Bottles, cans, scratch cards, sweet wrappers, cigarette packets, wipes. Petrol station purchases. All freshly deposited in the verges, hedges and laybys. Swept out of footwells and tossed from windows. 

Fast food packaging and receipts: the yellow arches at Minster have featured more than once. 

How can the habit of ejecting waste from one's vehicle be broken?

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Pear Gleaning in Woodnesborough 8/10 2020

Thank you to our gleaning team - Scot, Sonja, Sarah, Sandra, Jill and Steve - who collected some 250kgs of conference and comice pears today in Woodnesborough

A big thank you to farmer David Bradley for inviting us today.

Food going to
  • Deal Foodbank
  • Dover Foodbank
  • BeChange at Aylesham
  • Deal Salvation Army
  • Meals on the Hill
  • Talk It Out
  • Wellington House
  • Sandown School
  • Hornbeam School
  • Landmark Community Cafe
  • United Families
  • Sandwich Age Concern
  • Catching Lives
  • Hornbeam School

If your local community organisation would like some of produce we glean or if you would like to get involved please email

We would also like to thank Dover District Council for funding our Gleaning Bags and COVID kit.

Monday, October 5, 2020

A Deal Litter Diary - Three - Monday 5th October 2020 #DealLitterDiary

The babes of Deal sob for their soothers!

I find a range of mainly plastic items, presumably dropped by children.

I wonder if these things are missed. Cheap, disposable, replaceable. If I don't pick them up they will lie there, unbroken. Their owners will grow up and have kids themselves before their stuff has even begun to rot. The planet will harbour this litter way beyond our lifetime.

I wonder how many similar items are dropped nationally?


Helen C

Monday, September 21, 2020

A Deal Litter Diary - Two - 21th September 2020 #DealLitterDiary


It’s the start of the Autumn Term and afternoon picking is a shrewd move as I get seen by children from the local primary and they ask their parents what I’m doing. 

After 8 weeks of serious collecting, I experience a first. Someone sees me, takes a step back, bends down and picks up a piece of litter they’ve just spied amongst the weeds against a hedge. The item is proferred at a distance, and I meet it with my sack. I begin chatting with this environmentally-conscious 10-year old, who helps his Nan pick cans and other stuff when they are out together. He tells me it’s his birthday on Friday. 

I head for the primary school and as luck has it, meet the Year 6 teacher, so I can hope that this young lad gets recognized for the best bit of public spirit I’ve seen in a while. Let’s hope his generation re-kindles the attitude to KEEP BRITAIN TIDY and be more responsible for their surroundings.

#DealLitterDiary is written by Helen C 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

#GBBeachclean Deal Beach Sunday 20th September 2020

you to our 15 volunteers on this afternoons Deal Beach clean 21kgs collected

We had a team of 6 also doing the Marine Conservation Society's Great British Beach Clean

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Deal Hop Farm Harvest Report 2020

The community hop growing project in the town - the Deal Hop Farm - has had an excellent 4th season despite the drought, aphids and COVID.

The three harvest days in the town produced at total green harvest of 211.3 Kilos of prima donna hops. About 50 kilos of these went immediately into a Green Hop Pale Ale (brewed by Time & Tide Brewing) and the rest went for professional drying at the Berry and Redsell farms.

We got 40kilos of dried hops for beer brews with Time & Tide between now and next September 2021.

In all we harvested across 175 of our 265 sites with some 307 people involved in the harvest. 

The average harvest per rhizome did drop from 925grams to 650grams - and over all we were down by 30% on our 2019 harvest. 

Much of this was put down to the drought and timing of the aphids spread. This does seem to be reflected in many commercial hop farms in Kent who had cut hop production anyhow because of reduced demand from COVID but also either saw drops in harvest or alternatively had to irrigate the hop gardens which for the UK is very unusual.

The range was 9grams to 4kilos from one plant. The largest garden site produced 4.9kilos and our largest community site 11kilos

Lots of good feedback on our COVID secure harvest drop offs and we are very grateful to the volunteers who ran the drop offs, social distanced community hop picking, our marshalls for arranging pickups from sites who could not make it or were shielding.


For details on joining please email


Harvest 1 - 3/9/2020

Harvest 2 - 10/9/2020

Harvest 3 - 17/9/2020

Monday, September 14, 2020

Deal Litter Diary - One 10th September #DealLitterDiary

Welcome to my world! September 10th, 8 weeks in of my new outdoor hobby, and I scour the Ancient Highway – again. As time passes and the vegetation changes, I find bottles, cans, packets, wrappers that I’ve missed – they reveal themselves. Quick! Pick them up before the wind claims them and they get carried to the sea!

Today I’m on foot – my bike’s being serviced. Bags 1 and 3 get sorted at Chequers, and agreed by the Manager, I tip my load into their recycling bins. 

But bag 2, filled by the time I get to Restharrow, is an issue. It’s too heavy. I hitchhike – not for me, for the rubbish. Within minutes a van stops and my knight in shining armour happily takes the nearly overflowing bag onto his passenger seat. I tell him where to drop it off so I can sort its contents. When I get to North Deal Community Park, there it is at the entrance.

Every little helps.


Helen C

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Deal Hop Farm Harvest starts today #hops

 The 2020 Deal Hop Farm harvest starts today.

We will see many of of the members (we have 265 sites this year) later today at Captains Garden or at our next ones on the 10th and 17th.

We are also hop picking the Captains Garden's Hops at 3pm if you would like sample some hop picking

We have about 80 sites booked for this evenings drop off - please follow the social distancing guidance when dropping off #hops

Time & Tide use tonights hops in their Green Hop Pale Ale which should be available in the towns pubs in about 2-3 weeks time

Happy Hop Harvest Day Hopinistas!

Monday, August 31, 2020

Captains Garden Open Day 31st August 2020

Thank you to our 150 visitors today at the Captains Garden and for your generous donations (we raised £225 for the Garden today).

Massive thanks to all the volunteers (Penny, Lucy, Sonja, Rafi, Anna, Rose, Charles, Jane, Vicky, John and Steve) for donating their time to make it all happen, go so smoothly and keeping everyone safe.

Thanks also to Sue and Adrian Sullivan for suppling the free trees (many found new homes), Roisin for the Lavender.

We are doing hop picking in the Garden on Thursday 3rd September from 3pm if you would like to try your hand.

Great British Beach Clean Sunday 20th September 4pm


Please this clean includes the Marine Conservation Society survey in the Great British Beach Clean

If you want to participate on this citizen science survey please book a slot on 4pm booking ONLY.

This will require recording what you find.

The rest of the clean will just a normal litter pick

The beach clean will finish at 6pm to ensure rubbish pick up by DDC at 6:30pm


We are looking manage the community cleans a little differently whilst the COVID emergency is on to ensure social distancing and ensure it is safe for all involved as well as the general public

We are asking people to select a start time so we can manage numbers at the start

We will have disinfected pickers, some bag holders and cleaned gloves and hand sanitiser

We start/finish area will be marked for 2m in a one-way system

We will email everyone confirming the details on meeting point on the prom in front of DEAL CASTLE

We ask people to bring their own gloves and sanitiser

Any problems please email us at 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Sandown Castle Beach Clean Clean 23rd August 2020

Thank you to our 40 volunteers today on the Sandown Castle Community Beach Clean.

We collected 50.2kgs today so very well done all.

Thank you Sandown Castle Community Garden for hosting us and to Sonja, John, Charles, Lucy, Anna and Steve for organising the clean.

These are organised on pre-booked only basis - we have about 7 mini-cleans of 6 people each spread out across about 2km of beach.

Many thanks to Dover District Council who have funded our new COVID related kit thru their Community Grants scheme

Our next clean will be around the main Pier area on Sunday 20th September but at 4pm - full details to be announced in September.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Captain's Garden Open Day Bank Holiday Monday 31st August


This is our first open day of 2020 - its a great chance to see how the work of our volunteers in community garden are progressing to bring this historic garden at Deal Castle back into use.

The 1.2 acre Captain's Garden dates from 1733 and was the private walled garden of the Captain of Deal Castle, Admiral Norris. The garden developed more into a kitchen garden for the castle in 19thC and during WW2 was a Dig-for-Victory community allotment.

From about 1948 to 1979 is was a commercial market garden and then subsequently went into disuse for nearly 40yrs

In January 2018 volunteers from Deal With It (Deal's local Community Green Group), the Deal Hop Farm (a DWI Community Hop growing project in the town) in partnership with English Heritage (the custodians of the site) started to bring the site back into use, with the aspiration to turn the space into a free-to access garden for the whole community in Deal and Walmer

To follow what we do:

to get involved please email

COVID: Please be prompt for your booking time and there will be no 'on-door' entrance to ensure compliance with track-and-trace (details will be kept for 21days)

To ensure you and our volunteers safety we will be controlling entrance and exit to the Garden and there will be a strict one-way system around the garden

We will have supplies of hand sanitiser which we ask all to use or alternatively bring your own

The areas near the main beds will have 2m floor marking and we ask you respect social distancing.

There will be a separate entrance and exit to Victoria Rd

If you have a bubble group of 6 people please contact us directly

Please don't come if you are feeling ill

Please note: The Garden is still a Work-In-Progress many of the paths are uneven, with fox holes, nettles etc. Please take care when in the Garden. Unfortunately, it may not be suitable for everyone just yet.

English Heritage has a No Dogs policy on its property

Any problems with booking please email us at 


Thursday, August 6, 2020

Sandown Beach Clean Sunday 23rd August - Booking Necessary

Our Next Community Beach Clean is at Sandown Castle Community Garden on Sunday 23rd August

NB: You MUST book a ticket if you wish to participate HERE

There will be a strict one way system at the start/finish area, hand sanitiser, all equipment will be disinfected before and after use.

There will be 7 separate start times for groups of up to 6 and we will be allocating different parts of the 1.5km beach stretch we are doing to each start group.

Please bring you own gloves, hand sanitiser, sun cream/hat and something to drink (although there is the Hog&Bean Cafe at the Garden Now :)

Please do not attend if feeling unwell

Please be prompt for the start time you have booked

If you have a bubble group that would like to take part please email us directly at

Monday, July 27, 2020


From the Friends of Betteshanger Group

Betteshanger is the former coal mining pit in East Kent that closed in the 1980s. It comprises of two areas - the former spoil heap now a Country Park and the Pit head itself . Both sites have been purchased by a property developer following the collapse of  Hadlow College. Nature has recovered at both....

Quinn Estates have submitted a new Ecological Appraisal of the Betteshanger site to Dover District Council as part of their planning application to build over 200 houses there. Surveys have been done and they show that the site is full of wildlife. It also makes their intentions clear - plans will not be changed to accommodate the wildlife or its habitats, no matter how rare or protected. If they are in the way they will be removed. For example:

An area of priority woodland, where they want to build 6 housing units is in the way. They could choose not to build here but, no, the woodland will be removed.

There's a badger sett in this woodland. It's in the way so it too will be 'closed'. A metal barrier will be used to prevent access for the badgers and then the sett will be dug out. Badgers are protected by law. 

There are turtle dove territories on the site. They too are in the way and will be destroyed. Turtle doves are a Red listed species and in danger of becoming extinct.

Then there is the priority Open Mosaic habitat that is found on areas proposed for housing.

Even though it contains a suite of rare and protected plants it too will be destroyed.

There are 6 different bat species using the site. Some have made a roost in the old biomass boiler building. This is in the way so both building and bat roost will go. Bats are protected by law.

Great crested newts have been detected in one of the ponds on site. Planned works might result in their disappearance. They are protected by law.

Then there are smooth newts, slow worms, common lizards, over 180 birds using the site, over 100 flower species. Habitat for hares, hedgehogs, harvest mice and unknown numbers of insects and invertebrates. What will be their fate ?

How can this be allowed to happen ?

Developers will claim , 'Ah, yes, but its OK because we will 'mitigate'. Quinn Estates propose to change an area of Betteshanger Park, which is habitat in its own right.

But mitigation doesn't stop the destruction and it doesn't stop a green, wildlife rich space becoming a massive housing estate.

This kind of ecological vandalism must be challenged, especially at this time of unprecedented declines in biodiversity all round the planet. It can be stopped but only if enough people object to the planning application and only if the planning committee at Dover District Council reject the application.

Please help. Send in objections to Dover District Council, planning application number 20/00419. Time is short. A decision on this proposal will be made within a few weeks.

For further details email

Find them too on Facebook.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Walmer Castle Beach Clean 26th July 2020

Thank you to all our 43 volunteers on our socially distanced Walmer Castle Beach Clean who collected 40 kilos of rubbish this morning. 

Big thanks to Charles, Vicky, Sonja, John and Steve for organising.

We had effectively 7 mini cleans of 6 people each every 15min, each with a different area on 2km of beach to clean. all kit disinfected before and after use.

The new booking, check-in and pickup system worked well but would welcome feedback from any attendees