Tales from Gazen Salts

Case Closed or a Case of Time Will Tell?

Season 3

We had the complainant arrive for the designated meeting last Wednesday. With her were two other neighbours from Strand Street. One was the first complaint we received when we first started the clearing works of the wildlife garden several months ago.

We thought he had been appeased from when he had a conversation with one of the conservationists – whilst he left the meeting this week better than perhaps the first time, he was still not 100% happy that we would have a wildlife garden behind his property.

The second neighbour present was a bafflement to us all. He lives in a building much further away from us, and whilst still in Strand Street, he can’t see the garden. His apartment/house looks out onto Strand Street only. Nowhere from his property can he see Gazen Salts, the wildlife garden, the Nissen Hut or even any volunteers. However, he came along for the support of the main complainant.

The main complainant who started this drama show was most assuredly present. She came armed to the teeth with clipboards and held with her the airs and graces of the Queen of Sheba. She went for a fight and wasn’t planning on leaving until she extracted her litres of blood from all concerned.

She also arrived with a closed rather than an open mind. She wasn’t interested in any of the conservation efforts of Gazen Salts. She wasn’t concerned that the reserve had been there since 1973. She wasn’t remotely bothered that we had been on that land longer than she had been the property owner, which was supposedly seriously affected by the presence of the garden she could not see.

The reality of her arrival was she wanted Gazen Salts Nature Reserve closed down. This was an unwritten desire, but you could see it. You could hear it in her voice, and when she opened her mouth and started reeling off her complaints and who she had written to formerly, you soon came to realise that she had started a fight that not only was she losing and she knew that and one that she probably wished she had never begun – she was a woman who would not be told NO to nor would she consider the case closed or her efforts had become futile endeavours.

I didn’t take part in the meeting between the committee members and the lynching mob. Sadly whilst l am extremely polite, l have no tolerance for those who think they have the right to be incredibly rude to people and speak down to them as if they were unworthy so that the supposedly mighty ones can show how clever they are.

I don’t have an issue with authority, but l have a problem with self-righteousness. I am not a violent person, and l have never been, but l have stares that have been known to make people extremely uncomfortable and eyes that sometimes betray my innermost thoughts of deviousness. I am not the right person to have at specific meetings, especially when there is a heightened level of overt pomposity, and l tend to speak in various colours.

So l decided that l would not be an active charity trustee that morning but just another grunting volunteer. But l could see the meeting all too well, how the committee members were not being allowed to speak, and were all very polite despite the rantings they were receiving from three people who thought they were gods.

In my world, knowing that we were not in the wrong and that we were within the lines of the conservation brief that was working within the guidance of the council’s strict requirements for nature reserves in the United Kingdom, the meeting between the three complaining and arrogant neighbours and the four present committee members would NOT have gone on for as long as it did which was well over an hour. Fifteen minutes would have been sufficient.

However, the lead complainer, as said, wanted blood, and she was determined to squeeze out as much fame as she could in her 75 minutes of glory.
Despite not being wrong, given the nature of the complaints against them, the charity agreed to a few small measures that might make things marginally easier for someone who can’t even see us correctly and has never even walked into the reserve.

One aspect that was agreed on, which made the original complainer behind the garden happier was to be the removal of the yellow and red rubbish skip – admittedly, that will be a blessing – we no longer need it, and whilst they proved very useful during 2020 – 2022 for the removal of significant quantities of rubbish from the reserve, we no longer require their presence.

Our rubbish now is in much smaller quantities which can be easily disposed of in other more environmentally friendly ways. Ironically, whilst the committee agreed upon this, it is appeasing the neighbour behind the garden directly with one of the untidiest yards in Strand Street!

In March, given that today is the last day of that month, the committee’s chairman received well over two hundred emails from that one complainant concerning how unhappy she was with the state of an area that is principally nothing to with us but is the responsibility of our landlords and the environmental agency.

Gazen Salt’s Nature Reserve was her secondary complaint. She first began emailing in February when the work to improve the sluice gate functioning directly behind her house began. Having received no joy with that, by March, she began her assault on the charity.

She had formerly written to legal, conservation, crime, enforcement, and environmental agencies in Kent to complain about how Gazen Salts Nature Reserve was breaking the law just by being there. She was responded to by directors of all agencies and departments and was informed politely and legally that the charity was not breaking any laws. Unhappy with that, she then proceeded to demand the names of their bosses.

I have learned that even following the invited visit to the charity by the committee, our complainant has begun to send emails of complaint again. I feel this will never stop until she either receives some win or she, wears herself down mentally or becomes bored until the next project arises.

The lead complainant made many complaints over the period from mid-February to the end of March. They are below in summarised form submitted by one of our conservationists.

One of the banes of contention were the chippings – the answer was to store them in an open bay, which we started work on last Wednesday. It is NOT an effective storage bay. It is merely to display to those who might complain that the offloading of the chippings is by way of deliberate requirement and design and not by way of fly tipping.

These are needed for the reserve as follows –

They are put on the paths around the reserve to provide a dry and safe surface.
They define the paths and encourage visitors to stay on them.
They encourage the residents of Sandwich and visitors to access the reserve in the winter
instead of it being closed.
There are several considerations when choosing such a medium –

o The chippings supplied are cost-free.
o They come from a reliable source only.
o They provide a clean and disease-free option.
o They are locally sourced.
o The Trustees and the Council approve of the use of these

Fire Risk
Concerns were raised that these represent a fire risk.

o There is a risk of fire, and it is only a tiny risk either through spontaneous combustion (like other piles and compost heaps) or by being deliberately set alight
o To reduce the risk, the chippings are used in order – oldest, first
o The site for storing chippings is now defined by posts to stop its spread.
o Regular walking members of the public manage the site.
o The site is checked daily by a volunteer.
o The chippings are mainly used and stored in the winter months. Tree felling does not occur in the bird nesting season – spring and summer when the fire risk is relevant.


The pile of chippings might encourage fly-tipping.
The Environment Agency broke the gate to the site, but it has been fixed
Unauthorised vehicles have no access to the site

The Skip

This is an “eye-sore”. It will get taken away asap. We will only have a skip on a short-term basis when we need one.

Ivy on trees

There has been a proliferation of uncontrolled Ivy growth up the trees and over the ground for many years. We are beginning to reduce the amount on trees with significant coverage (75%+) and areas with this plant covering the ground. Over the past years’ winter work, we have removed 10 – 20% of Ivy for safety and biodiversity. The female (flowering) plants are helpful for Robins to nest in and bees to find nectar.

Flood Risk

The bank [Deadwall] at the rear of the Wildlife Garden area adjacent to the Nissan Hut is composed of natural material and will eventually rot down. It currently provides a valuable habitat and biodiversity reservoir, hosting, or potentially hosting, a large population of amphibians, reptiles, molluscs, small mammals, fungi, plants and potentially a massive range of invertebrates (especially beetles). It also acts as a barrier to people getting to the Guestling Stream.

There is concern that the “bank” could be washed into the Guestling should there be a flood before the bank rots down. The central Gazen Salts Nature Reserve is in a high-risk zone, but the Wildlife Garden area is low risk, i.e. a 1 in 20 chance of being flooded estimated by the Environment Agency.

It is felt that the benefits out way the risks. If it happened, the volunteers would repair it.


In its duty of care to the watercourses, the Environment Agency felled many trees along the edge of the Guestling for access to dredge the stream. There are many Hawthorns, Elder, Field maple, Sycamore and some other species recovering and beginning to grow back. In a few years, the cover will return to a height of about 3-4 metres. We only fell trees for safety reasons or could benefit biodiversity.

Wildlife Garden

Some residents needed clarification on what was happening in the wildlife garden area. We have cleared and substantially tidied the site, ready for us to plant examples of garden flowers that are good for Wildlife, especially pollinators such as bees. There will be notice boards to publicise once the plants have grown and the area is mostly complete. It is at its very early stages of development at the moment.

Car Park

Concerns were raised about the car park being extended and used by people who were not authorised as the gate was open. There are currently no plans to expand the car park that we are aware of. This car park is for the use of Gazen Salts and the Cricket Club and is not part of the reserve. It is the property of Dover District Council. The gate has been fixed and is now locked as before.

So we have listened to each of the main complaints. We have taken action where we, as a charity, were able to. We have received the all-clear from the top management of Dover District Council and all relevant departments that we are not in breach of any laws or conservation rulings, and Gazen Salts has faced the accusers politely and diplomatically and introduced measures which will assist where we can, so in our eyes, this is case closed.

Of course, there is another issue that is quite significant and also not mentioned, and that is the effect that these complaints can have on volunteers. All of the committee members are also volunteers. There are no paid positions on the committee. People give up their free time to manage, run, and volunteer on behalf of the charity of Gazen Salts. People have dedicated their lives during their free time to building, creating, and nurturing an area that has come along in leaps and bounds from an idea that began well over fifty years ago in 1971.

Gazen Salts was born from people who were young adults at the time who freely gave their time to the concept a belief of helping nature. Many of these creators, the charity’s founding members, are still with us today. Our two main conservationists were founding members.

Our three complainers, all in their early sixties and mid-fifties, were youngsters or teenagers when the reserve was being birthed. Many of our volunteers are in their later forties through to their early eighties, and they love what they are doing, giving something back to the community that has, in many respects, turned around and insinuated that perhaps what we do is wasting time that could be spent elsewhere.

This little spat isn’t over, but what effect might it have on some of our volunteer’s motivation?

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.

9 thoughts on “Tales from Gazen Salts

  1. Aww that is so sad and disheartening – never go into a battle without reinforcements! Looks like she obviously had them

    Sounds like my boss 😮

    Fine let them have nasty areas no one takes care of – let them have slums and eat their cake – their loss

    Rude that people can be that way!

    Sorry you go through those threats – they sound ignorant of human kind, as well as, the good of planet.

    Does the Gazen Salts have the money and want to fight? Cause that probably turn into major fight!! How are your courts with these things? Is worth the fight ?

    How bad you want it? How much you believe in?

    Are you able to take poll of neighborhood for general consensus ? What is atmosphere ?

    You will need larger support than her

    You will need to draw attention and educate on the greater good and show what benefits and addition it would add.

    Ahhhh well ya know some of my funeral homes – were there before the houses moved in… yet neighbors will complain about seeing a casket being wheeled in (don’t look then) or traffic from services – ya know 🙄 … what you think being next to funeral home be like??

    I would never buy property next to a school or church lol – nope 👎 would drive me insane and I don’t want to complain lol ✌️ not worth the daily fight to me – so I just won’t buy there – I’d rather rip my hair out first 😮

    So Rory – whatcha gonna do? What are you able to do?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Trisha,

      If she was to take this to court, she would be facing the DDC who ultimately owns Gazen Salts. The charity runs and manages it only, so it wouldn’t be our money that would fight her. The fact is the case would be thrown out of court because she doesn’t have the grounds to argue legally based on everything that has been legally found to be right.

      If she wanted to prove a point she might take the matter into a civil court, but again l think she would struggle, because the land isn’t her land, the land over the stream is DDC’s and it will grow back after a couple of seasons.

      It would be foolish for her to continue, but then l am not her and we live in the land of democracy, she will continue to do what she thinks is right.

      Liked by 1 person

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