Published: 12:33, 29 April 2021
| Updated: 14:42, 29 April 2021
Police and a council have been called in after work started on a new housing development, as the developer insists it has done nothing wrong.
Town and Country Housing, which has permission to build 49 new homes on Furnace Lane, Horsmonden, came under fire by villagers when workers were spotted near hedgerows in Gibbet Lane.
Police were called shortly after 11am to a report the hedges were being cut during the bird nesting season.
Officers attended the area, known locally as Crouches Fields, where they spoke to those involved and inquiries into the circumstances are continuing.
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) also confirmed it has received a complaint and will carry out an investigation.
But the developer Town and Country Housing insists its practices were legal and followed strict planning guidance.
A spokesman said: "We were carrying out work to clean up the hedgerow before installing a tree protection fence to safeguard it during the building of new homes.
"However, we had not communicated this to local residents, and we would like to apologise for this.
"Our contractor was removing bramble and scrub adjacent to the hedging. This is in compliance with planning permission granted to us by TWBC on March 26.
"The work is solely for scrub and bramble removal and the hedging will remain intact until the bird nesting season finishes in September.
"An ecologist was also on site to identify nesting birds, dormice and other wildlife. The ecologist has confirmed that only low-level bramble and self-seeded blackthorns were removed, adjacent to the hedgerows.
"All areas of vegetation removed were carefully inspected for evidence of breeding birds and dormouse nests by the ecologist.
"The self-seeded blackthorn had to be removed. The more sensitive areas were removed by hand tools.
"We can confirm that the ecology works carried out were in strict accordance with planning condition 22 of the planning permission and the Wildlife and Countryside Act."
But residents feel let down by the activity and believe those on site have cut back the hedges during the bird nesting season.
Nancy Baker, who lives in nearby Orchard Close, was at the scene with neighbours yesterday and says the hedges have been 'desecrated'.
She added: "The development was always going to go ahead and we've accepted that.
"What we don't like is that they've been cutting down the hedges."
Many others have expressed concerns on social media saying they will continue to monitor the situation.