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Whitstable loss: the destruction of the Castle Grounds

Updated on September 15, 2016
Whitstable Views profile image

CJ Stone is a writer and a postal worker. He has lived in Whitstable for over thirty years.

"the destruction of a place of such tranquil beauty...."
"the destruction of a place of such tranquil beauty...."

Devastation

I’ve just come back from the Castle Grounds. At the time of writing all of the 15 major trees due for removal have come down, and there are piles of logs all over the grounds, like gravestones to mark their passing.

It’s a scene of devastation on a grand scale, heart-rending to see: the loss of so much habitat, the wanton destruction of a place of such tranquil beauty.

Why worry about yobs and vandals ruining our public spaces when our own council seem to be intent upon doing the job for them?

If you’ve read the March edition of the Whitstable Imp, then you might have seen the interview with Darren Simpson, the chairman of the Castle Trust. According to that magazine, the reason the trees had to come down was because they were either diseased or damaging the building.

Oh dear. This is very misleading. One tree was showing signs of disease, one tree was in the way of the building works. As for the rest, they were not removed for these reasons at all, but for other reasons entirely, such as, for instance, that they would spoil the view of the Castle, or because they were the wrong species, or in the wrong place.

Nothing to do with disease or damage. They were accidental intrusions upon the Council’s so-called “vision”.

Vision? Short-sightedness might be a better term.

Short-sighted

Something I noticed from talking to various people involved with the development of the Castle Grounds was that they all tended to repeat certain rhetorical flourishes. “Vision” was one. Another was the reference to landscapes as “living entities”.

Well no, a landscape isn’t a living entity. A tree is a living entity, and if you remove 15 mature trees from a landscape - plus all the wildlife they harbour, birds and insects and animals - then the landscape becomes that much less living.

Personally I think that some of the trees were removed to open up a sea-view in order to increase potential revenue.

It is a sign of the inherent destructiveness of our political system that it puts money before life.

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    • Whitstable Views profile imageAUTHOR

      Whitstable Views 

      9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      In this case there was lottery funding on offer, so there was money involved making it even more imperitive not to let the public get in the way of previously made decisions. Unfortunately we were too late to do anything about this.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      9 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Another case of small-minded officials using temporary "authority" to change the landscape forever in the name of "public good". Good for who?

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 

      9 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      I am going to do a hub using Jessica's term. I can see it as the truth. The other War on Terror is a lie but the War on Terra isn't!

      Here are some lines from Dylan that touch on the subject of ancient trees:

      Well, the howling wolf will howl tonight, the king snake will crawl, Trees that've stood for a thousand years suddenly will fall. Wanna get married? Do it now, Tomorrow all activity will cease. You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace.

      From http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVFExA_bGfw

    • Whitstable Views profile imageAUTHOR

      Whitstable Views 

      9 years ago from Whitstable, UK

      I know Steve. Another excuse is health and safety. One of the trees in the Castle grounds was a 250 year old Holm Oak, which they removed, as they said, because it was "showing signs of disease", and on the spurious claim that it might cause a hazard if it's branches fell. It has stood for 250 years and survived the great storm that blew down half of the trees in Kent, but now it has to come down for "health and safety" reasons. It would be a joke if it wasn't also so desperately sad.

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 

      9 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Another depressing sign of the "War on Terra" (term used by Jessica Mystic)! Very sad to see all those trees killed!

      Meanwhile where I live the evil forces of Monsanto's Roundup have been getting increasingly used and a new policy of ripping up and hacking back undergrowth in many places as a fire hazard following the insanity of when the island was set on fire by an arsonist they never caught a year ago!

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