Published: 18:01, 07 April 2021
| Updated: 11:47, 08 April 2021
Work to clear fly-tipping blighting access to a gypsy and traveller site has been delayed due to "ecological" concerns over nesting birds.
Burnt-out sofas, fridges and tyres were dumped along the access road leading to the Barnfield Park caravan park, near New Ash Green.
It was branded a potential "health risk" following conversations held between a local resident and the local traveller community who rely on the route to bring children to and from school.
Donna Clarke, originally from New Ash Green, said she was "completely shocked" by the extent of fly-tipping at the site's entrance.
The 60-year-old, whose mum lives nearby, penned a letter last month to Kent County Council (KCC), which is responsible for managing the site, calling on them to urgently clear the waste.
In response, the authority said it had acted to clear all "hazardous" items, including dumped fridges and asbestos sheeting.
Concrete blocks have also been put in place to serve as a deterrent.
Funding has since been secured to clear the additional waste on site and install new security measures, first mooted in a select committee report dating back to 2006.
However, KCC says this work has been delayed until the Autumn as the area is currently subject to "nesting season constraints".
But Donna claimed the authority needed to do more after revisiting the site last week where fridges and other hazardous household items remained.
"Despite saying that hazardous waste, such as refrigerators, have been cleared these remain on site," she said.
"It is not clear to me what exactly KCC have done apart from installing the 'Lego' bricks.
"The residents are resigned to being treated really badly and nobody is paying any notice."
KCC Councillor for Sevenoaks Rural North East, David Brazier (Con) also raised his own concerns.
"The whole business is distressing in the extreme and I would like to get it sorted," he said. "Nobody should have to live in conditions like that."
He added: "The problem has been going on for a very long time but the council has been clearing it up for a very long time too."
Cllr Brazier said the added delay until Autumn was regrettable but ruled out any complacency on the authority's part.
He said: "There is no complacency, everyone has the best interests of Barnfield Park at heart. We gain nothing from a situation like this."
KCC manages the Ash Road caravan park, which it acquired planning powers over in the 1990s, and pitches are occupied with 999-year leases.
It says the access road is private and falls outside the responsibilities of its highways team.
Nevertheless, it explained that it is working to "find an appropriate solution" with Sevenoaks, the district council with enforcement powers for fly-tipping, which explained it was also attempting to address problems.
In the meantime the council says it is in the process of commissioning its own ecology specialist to advise on works as it "does not wish to fall foul of the law".
It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.
The authority added it is dealing "pragmatically" with ecology concerns and is "expediting this as quickly and safely as possible",
A KCC spokesman said: “Funding has been secured and we intend to clear the site as soon as it is practical to do so.
“The site entrance has been cleared of fly-tipped material, where hazardous waste, such as refrigerators and asbestos sheeting had been dumped.
“The concrete blocks have been placed where the tipping had been present to serve as a deterrent against further tipping."