Tales from Gazen Salts

The Rise of Nimbyism

The Guestling Stream over the dead wall behind the Wildlife Garden
Thursday 23rd March

Season 3
This is the section of Strand Street that is affected by Gazen Salts – the pink x is an empty property, the properties in the red square face the back of the wildlife garden which is the green oblong. The purple rectangle is the Nissen Hut and the yellow tick is the house that is complaining about the wildlife garden. A garden that the house cannot see unless they were to stand on top of their hedge and craning their neck.

The four properties that are at the back of the garden have not complained that we are aware of – however a leaflet was posted through their doors on Wednesday afternoon and it invited everyone down to next Wednesday’s volunteer day. As of 9pm Wednesday evening, only one person had responded … Yellow tick.

These photos are from last week, where the tasks to be achieved chiefly finishing touches to the dead wall regarding tiny insect, frog, toad and newt habitats, and the area to the side and back of the Nissen Hut was to be tidied up and made less of a hazard and eyesore.

Some concrete slabs and blocks needed to be stacked, and l also built a metal wire caddy. The metal wire is coming out of the reserve, and instead of dumping it into a landfill, we opted to collect it and store it to sell it to a metal trader. Every penny and pound made helps the charity monies.

Sadly you can only tidy areas like this up so much, and you can only sometimes make them look pretty. They have to be practical. But this area now has a complaint lodged against it as a hazard. There is a sign to be erected that reads hazard materials.

One of the things we have tried to achieve is to prevent kids from going down the bank behind the garden and trying to get across the Guestling stream to enter the properties behind – everything along the back of the wildlife garden was done to ensure an increased level of security was awarded to those properties as well as hopefully ensuring that none of our materials would be used to build temporary bridges. However, we have now been criticised for this action.

It’s been a while since l last wrote about my work with projects at the nature reserve of Gazen Salts. I have been busy working on the wildlife garden project and tidying the Nissen hut and the attached buildings, like the wood storage units.

The dead wall is now finished, although new ‘old waste materials’ are added to it on the odd occasion to bulk it up like the cut grasses from Gallow’s Fileld.

The garden is now the area of concentrated efforts. While last week l was digging up an aggressive and invasive patch of wildflower heliotropes, this week l was tidying up the external wood storage lean-to.
Only so much work can be done gardening when the weather outside is wet, like last week. Suze and l know this already as we spend much more of our time outside than we do indoors, and we have found this month alone that we have to scrabble around during periods of drier weather and try to squeeze in more jobs in much smaller time windows.

Volunteering at Gazen Salts is no different.

This week’s Wednesday was dry but overcast and windy, but we had severe rain storms all night, resulting in very wet ground. Last Wednesday was dry and partially sunny, but the days on either side had been wet, and the week before, the reserve was at risk of flooding due to the heavy rainfall, so no volunteers performed any work on a Wednesday.

The same can be said of our work on the client’s garden, although luckily they are only one street away from where we live and yet having said that because of Suze’s work and the strange hours she is scheduled for means we must endeavour to work that in on our work journals.

Working on the allotment fits into the same awkwardness and time slot availability. The irony of everything is that when the dry weather is, then present, you find that you have at least ten jobs per day to try and fit in as opposed to perhaps two to three tasks. Time gets shorter and waits for no one.

Gazen Salts Wildlife Garden also needs more volunteer engagement. Suppose we have twenty volunteers on a Wednesday, given the weather delaying other essential tasks. In that case, more favour is being awarded to other jobs on the reserve rather than in the garden area.

The pathways need chipping, and that’s a given as it is a regular feature and more so with all the rain we are experiencing. It can wash our existing paths away, especially if pathway spreaders are raking the content too thinly, which is happening a lot l have noticed. We have a sufficient number of bark chips, too. Currently, the heaps are holding close to twenty tons. We have too much because we need to use it more effectively. The depth of the pathways needs to be six inches, but currently, inexperience and the need to conserve means that spreaders are only achieving half of the desired depth.

They are being reserved with their usage, and there is no need. This is where the absence of a nature warden is most noticed in Gazen Salts. Volunteers presenting once a week could be more efficient.
So when you have working weather on a Wednesday, like yesterday, everyone is always catching up on the tasks that need to be achieved daily or weekly, never mind any new jobs scheduled.

The bark chippings have become a problem in more ways than one. First, as we are not using the quantity to the amount we were this time last year due to poorer weather and volunteers not being appropriately managed due to the lack of a warden, the sheer volume of weight in twenty tons means the content is wasting away and decomposing. Therefore the bark chippings lose a lot of their usefulness, effectiveness and structure integrity.

In layperson’s terms, if the bark chips are decomposing through heat and lack of use and disintegrating when the spreaders are laying new pathways and not ensuring the paths are of the correct depth when the poorer wetter weather strikes with increased frequency as it is, then the tracks are disappearing in a matter of days as opposed to lasting for months.

The second issue is that we are receiving many complaints from a small section of Sandwich town, most notably Strand street, which we are sited behind the houses on private land. The Guestling stream lies between us and the backs of the houses. The complaints are many, and yet only a few complainers and l think it might even only be one who is just screaming to get heard!

The section l believe that is complaining comprises one prime resident who cannot see us clearly unless they perform a move similar to Regan MacNeil of Exorcist fame and does manage to spin their head on their shoulders completely. They are too far away to see the wildlife garden. The stretch involves ten houses, yet only four are directly ‘affected’ by the garden’s presence.

Of those four, l am aware of one complaint only, which was rectified the same day the complainer came to see us months ago. It was the reason the dead wall was erected in the first place, which was to help protect the houses.

Politics in Sandwich is, at times, tremendous. Those with money have more agendas than those in actual municipal power. Yet, much of the time, they seemingly have nothing better to do than complain about projects affecting their privacy in their eyes. The reality is not an invasion of privacy but a movement better known as Nimbyism.

Nimbys are ten a penny these days, like the crowd that also seeks to be offended at the drop of a hat and is more offended when they haven’t been offended that day! In short, nimby stands for ‘Not in my backyard!’—those who oppose anything looking to be built that they might consider undesirable or hazardous.

The main antagonist of the complaints, which are now appearing thrice daily to the town council in the forms of notes, hand-delivered letters and emails and also telling anyone who will listen, is set to create as much angst and woe to her plight as she possibly can.

The wildlife garden is now seen as enemy number one – and having read through the long list of complaints from this person, my only thought is this must be either someone incredibly pompous and filled with self-importance or someone bored!

Next week the main complainer has been invited by Gazen Salts to visit on a volunteer Wednesday. After that, she can talk to us directly – trustees and volunteers alike to express her concerns but, more importantly, we can talk to her and educate her on what we are looking to achieve with the wildlife garden and how it will aid Sandwich town, local schooling and business too.

But also to remind her of the importance of preserving our environment and conservation projects, which are crucial to the well-being of flora and fauna projects throughout Kent. This is something l feel at times that this town forgets, and l have seen it more here from those with more money than sense. Those that consider the environment to be at their disposal and that their properties and gardens are more valuable and necessary than other areas of beauty.

Of her many complaints, several were aimed at the presence of the dead wall; another was the presence of the bark chippings [which, as an unloading area, has been there since 2016], which she now claims is fly-tipping, that trees had been cut down [no trees have been cut down, just overgrowth cleared], that the area is directly exposed [which is what happens when you clear overgrowing foliage], that the site is a mess [which is rich given how much of an actual mess it was months ago] the list is endless …

On some of the complaints, whilst she is wrong in her assessment, she indirectly raises points l have presented to the committee. That the presence of the bark chippings, when not being used effectively, creates one giant compost heap which, if the weather becomes hotter, can turn into a combustion bomb alongside the need to approach the residents to explain what we are doing on Gazen Salts alongside other suggestions which for the more significant part have been ignored.

So whilst the complainer overreacts to something that does not directly affect her property or her, she raises some interesting points. The true irony is that none of the other residents directly involved is bothered by the work in the garden.

Although in light of her battle against us, some of my earlier ideas have now been given some serious thought, and we will be actioning them from next week, which is a win. But also, if she allows it, it is to be a win for her too.

We shall see.

Images were taken Thursday, 23rd March, of the Wildlife Garden and its current appearance. There is a very defined shape to it now. More ground will be dug over when the earth is not so wet. There are more plants to be planted into it as time progresses.

The dead wall is visible at the back, keeping the garden front and centre. The wood storage area is now much tidier, sorted into wood types, and fully organised.

As you can see, the bark chipping area is packed with nearly 20 tons of bark, and yes, you can see vapour rising due to the heat and the rains making it wet. However, l have suggested that we construct a defined chipping bay with a sign that reads No Fly Tipping. Hopefully, this will prove to the complainers that this content ISNT waste products but products the reserve uses frequently.

Designs – Earthly Comforts – Inspired by Nature – see collection here

Tales from Gazen Salts Nature Reserve is about my time and stories of my voluntary work with this project.

I’ll see you next episode. Thanks for reading.

Gazen Salts Nature Reserve
Sandwich, Kent, England, UK

Published by The Autistic Composter

Earthly Comforts is a wildlife journaling scrapbook focusing on the countryside, wildlife biodiversity and environmental conservation, flora and fauna volunteering projects, gardening, composting and vermiculture, inspiration, poetry and photography.

17 thoughts on “Tales from Gazen Salts

  1. Hahaha what they complain about? Not being able to see the garden?

    What is the age of the complainers?

    What did yellow tick respond with? Lol

    And hazardous ☢️ materials ? Why? What is there that be hazardous? I don’t notice anything?

    Ahhhh they wanna see what you creating lol … you blocked them lol

    How old is the complainer who is loud? I’m gonna guess they are older people – I’d be surprised if was young ? Although it is the cancel gen

    Hmm 🤔 I’m so curious!

    Hahaha is a woman lol … you sir – have a Karen

    Everything you say she complains about sounds like she has nothing better to do than complain – you are her target 🎯 – there are people like that 😮

    Good luck with her 😮 🙏

    Butter her up and maybe complaints stop – send her come cookies – who doesn’t love cookies 🍪 …

    We have a place called crumble cookies and omg they so good – yes you can do whatever you want if you bring cookies lol

    Make friends and she won’t complain anymore – don’t be combative and also let her speak – just let her get it all out – sometimes people just wanna be heard?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree; l referred to her as a Karen when reading her list of complaints, as many have either 1] nothing to do with us or 2] have no grounds or merit.

      I was told she was just a complainer, and l mustn’t refer to her as a Karen. Okay, well, she is now known as The One Who Complains. That makes me think of Voldemort from Harry Potter fame.

      One of the most significant issues l have with the committee of Gazen Salts is that they need to include the town in their projects. It is a simple case of defusing potential problems from rising, yet here we have a classic case of miscommunication. This lack of information arises from the fact that the land we are on is private; therefore, it is assumed that we do not have to tell anyone what we are doing with it. This is not entirely true, but that is the management’s thinking.

      Some of the complaints are not aimed at us but at those who own the land, which is Dover District Council, and the Parks Municipality has gifted the land to the Gazen Salt’s charity to use and manage. So whilst it is ‘private land,’ it is still overall managed by the Council.

      Recently the Council carried out some significant project works with the Environmental Agency [EA] on the Guestling Stream to improve the sluice gate system, which is also directly behind the complainer’s house. It was this that stirred her into action. The EA have nothing to do with us, although they have helped us in the past with some of our waterwork issues on the reserve.

      But the Council and the EA didn’t research the work they were undertaking, and £150,000 [of taxpayers’ money] and three weeks of heavy machinery and trees being cut down later, they accepted that they could no longer achieve their result, and the project was abandoned. NOW, this meant that the rural area at the back of this lady’s house was decimated. It wasn’t her land, but her view was destroyed. It will, of course, grow back, but still. That damage will potentially take years to regrow.

      So her main complaint is actually against the Council and the EA, but because Gazen Salts have the grounds next to it, any work we do [irrelevant to the fact the charity has had the land there since 1983] is seen as damaging in her eyes. It doesn’t matter if she can see it or not.

      I have no idea of her age, but her actions award me a demographic between the later sixties to early eighties, but who knows, she might be younger. She is ‘of.’ money’ though, which speaks volumes here in Sandwich to the governing municipals.

      There are no hazardous materials, but my dead wall, although organic, is considered a problem because it is on the ridge above the stream, and she classes that as a flood risk. I have said it would take an army tank to knock it down, but she wants it taken down completely or to have a certificate of safety award. Nothing of which exists.

      Of the twenty people living along that stretch and receiving the flyer, only one has responded and accepted the invite to next Wednesday’s volunteer day[The One Who Complains]. The charity has received many favourable responses from the public concerning the garden being created. But there is usually always one who is always unhappy with something.

      We shall see what next Wednesday brings.

      Cookies don’t tend to work with people in Sandwich, only money or that they are deemed right.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Meh 🫤 – I wrote a long response but it didn’t work?

        Ugh 😑

        She is probably furious with state of affairs with government and doesn’t trust them after what they previously did – and is not informed with who you are and what you do…

        Be knowledgeable – do not let her smell fear

        Just explain who are and what do…

        And when inviting someone to your home – you feed them… old school customer service

        Explain and fill her belly – good gesture and government would not do that.

        Show her this is to improve community not destroy it

        In todays world so much is crappy because of governments … put her mind at ease with information – be ready for her! Know your stuff – be kind and listen to her concerns – have answers for her if you can

        Is there a possibility of having environmental inspector to check wall? Maybe that help make her more at ease

        I work hard for my house and if I think government gonna come in and ruin – yeah I’m gonna be like what are you doing? Lol … for them I would be nice but wanna know

        I don’t trust PG&E or anything they do… so if it’s them I be hard – they are murders though – shady awful company!! Monopoly … so yes if was PG&E, I be like what the F you think you doing??

        They be assholes so they would not explain and be combative – certainly wouldn’t have cookies 🍪 for me lol – chip on their murdering shoulders – big corporation assholes

        Do not be combative – get her on your side and be honest and informative – filling bellies with yummy things just helps so person is not HANGRY lol ✌️😘

        Tricks of the trade – get her to trust and believe in what doing

        She owns property there – she just wants peace of mind – soften her 🙏

        Liked by 1 person

      2. We will welcome her of course and giver her a coffee and a bit of cake should she want it, we don’t have the facilities here to offer anything else.

        I believe both the EA and the council have checked my wall over and not found anything detrimental. But we are all a good bunch anyway, she can ask us anything and we will assist her.

        I have met her once when she was walking her dog, she is sneaky, she comes and pesters you all friendly like, you answer her cherrfully and then she complains about you to others, she is a handful at best of times, but she will still get smiles 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ahhhh people lol

        She does sound like a handful … but you don’t know what experiences made her like that. Or perhaps she just enjoys complaining ?

        Maybe she doesn’t have much company or people around for her

        Good luck 🙏

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I think she is a complainer, l was going to say she is just a moaner, but who knows that one? Her husband is apparently a counsellor in Dover and in his own words he says of his wife ‘She likes to go on a bit.” He sounds a bit henpecked to me.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. So she’s married? Interesting

        Well I can’t wait to hear how it goes!! You got this!

        She probably likes the power?

        I have a friend like that – she is also married and her husband worships the ground she walks on – but she doesn’t treat him very well and he doesn’t seem to care or notice?

        But she is a bulldog!! It is an advantage to have her on your side – if you can

        My friend is ruthless though!!

        So let’s see how would I handle my friend in this situation?

        Well she’s very analytical – and always wants to be right or feel like she is… she will not listen to anyone – she’s fierce

        Not sure if you are dealing with that … but if is like that … you gonna have to be on your game

        You can do it – look how you plan!! You are very intelligent and a good person with an incredible drive 😊 you are very impressive as well as kind

        You got this!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I spoke to Mike yesterday when he was down at the allotment like Suze and l were and he was telling me that her main beef isn’t with us, but we are accessible to complain about.

        The EA and the counsellors have been down and looked at everything and we are not breaking any laws or conservation rulings with anything we are doing, she is simply aiming at us because it is easier.

        There are a few like that here, those who wish to have themselves heard – we are simply in her firing line till something else annoys her.

        She emailed one counsellor last Saturday 17 times in one day complaining about us. He wrote back everytime and explained to her that Gazen Salts was NOT breaking any laws, but he acknowledged she would be down there Wednesday yelling at those louts [she is referring to us] and that she would give us all what for.

        Well, l feel tomorrow may be a testy day.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Ah don’t let her get to you.

        Like you say, you are not breaking laws or rulings, and you do good work.

        Let her have her freak out – don’t let her deter you

        Be cool calm and collected.

        There are always going to be people like that!

        Don’t imagine her as a threat – you know you do good…

        Be proud of your work – show her the love you put into that

        If she still complains – oh well …

        Like you say – is you guys who are in her line of fire currently until she finds a new thing to go after

        Once she sees everything and meets you maybe be better

        You are charming – charm her 🙌😘

        I wish you all the luck 🍀

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Hahaha the luck of the Irish will be needed l feel. I am cool about it, l am never rude to anyone anyway and l do love what we do, she either feel the passion of our work or not, we can only do our best 🙂


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