Yvette Austin reports for BBC South East news on opposition to the development of Conyer brickworks, a haven for nightingale and turtle dove

Conyer Brickworks, a former industrial site, has become a haven for some of our fastest declining wildlife, including nightingale and turtle dove. It has also provided a sanctuary for local people during the recent coronavirus lockdown. Now it is threatened with destruction to build just 24 luxury homes for the wealthy few.

Yvette Austin reports for BBC South East news on how this is allowed to happen and I make a case for the value of Brownfield sites.

You can comment on the application by searching for application no. 18/506460 at https://pa.midkent.gov.uk/online-applications

Comments will be registered right up to the date of the planning committee.

please help us to stop this development!

Conyer Brickworks on the BBC



Heading out to film a piece for BBC South East with Yvette Austin about the destruction of Conyer Brickworks, one of the best places to hear nightingale and turtle dove in Kent, to make way for 24 luxury homes.

Dandelion Wine

dandelion wine

I made this wine while self-isolating for 14 days. My friend suggested that dandelions have the right PH level for counteracting the Coronavirus. I am doubtful of such claims but it made me feel I was doing something to help myself and taking control of a scary situation.

You will need

1 unwaxed orange

1 unwaxed lemon

3 litres in volume of fresh young dandelion flowers washed and dried (this amount proved difficult to get in lockdown but thankfully my neighbours helped out by collecting there flowers and throwing them over the fence in plastic bags)

4.5 litres of water

1.25kg of granulated sugar

7g of wine yeast

Campden Tablet

Peel the fruit, removing as much of the pith as possible and put the peel with the flowers into a muslin bag (old shirt or tights will suffice) Tie the end of the parcel with string and boil in the water for 15-20 minutes.

Remove the bag and squeeze it over the pan. Be careful not to scald yourself. Add the sugar to the liquid. Once dissolved, empty the liquid into a large plastic container and add the juice of the fruit. Once the liquid has cooled to blood temperature, add the yeast.

Cover and leave it for 3 days in a warm place. Then siphon into a demi-john. Put on an airlock and leave it in a warm dark place such as an airing cupboard.

Once the bubbles have stopped popping in the airlock then siphon the wine into another demi-john. Be careful not to disturb the sediment in the bottom.

Pop in a campden tablet and leave to clear. One the liquid is looking clear and golden then siphon it into sterilised bottles and cork it.

Leave to mature for about a year! By this time then let’s hope Covid 19 is a distant memory and we can just enjoy some lovely wine with friends.


This week on the marshes

lapwing chick attwoodsLike many people in the country, I returned to work this week. After weeks of lazy starts, days gently gardening and undertaking lockdown projects it has come as a bit of a shock.

The 4.30am alarm calls never get any easier to bare and it’s small wonder that my work trousers no longer fit when I normally spend the spring undertaking 6 hour long route marches across farmland while most people are commuting to offices.

This week I have outwitted herds of cows who surrounded me and threatened to lick my hire truck to death, spoken sweet nothings to ponies, wrestled with farm gates and shook up my insides while driving across rutted and lumpy land.

Still, it is great to be back, hearing the calls of the waders, chewing the fat with the farmers (by telephone) and watching as new life gets underway.

24 luxury homes set to destroy wildlife sanctuary.


Turtle doves are among the birds who find sanctuary at Conyer Brickworks.

If, like me, you have found nature to be a huge solace in recent months, then please help to stop the destruction of one of Kent’s best wildlife sites.

Conyer Brickworks is one of the top places to hear nightingale and a sanctuary for our fastest declining birds, the turtle dove. It is under threat of being destroyed for the sake of 24 luxury homes.

Personally I find the timing of this planning application to be offensive and shows a complete disregard for the way that close contact with the natural world has helped many people keep going in the last few months.

If we didn’t know before how important it is to have natural sites on our doorstep then we do now.

Destroying the natural world to satisfy the greed of a few people is not a fitting memorial to the people that have been lost.

Comment by contact Swale Borough Council http://www.midkent.gov.uk  and quoting planning application 18/506460

Returning to the world – A day in the life of an environmental consultant – June 2020


photo copyright MLP

It is June the 1st, the blue tits have fledged, the first painted lady butterfly has passed my window and from tomorrow I am heading back out into the world to find out what has been happening during my absence.

For the last two months all survey work was stopped as we all locked down due to Coronavirus. At first, I admit, stopping my work seemed like madness. After all, it is hard to find a more isolated way to spend your day that in the middle of a field at the crack of dawn with only lapwing for company but then the virus wreaked havoc in my own life and all thought of work went out of my head.

For the last few months I have experienced my own personal tragedy due to coronavirus and, although surveys and spreadsheets were not on my mind, then nature continued to be the greatest solace in my life.

The bluebell woods were a place to escape to when the stress of dealing with my worst fears became almost too much to bare. The endless waves rolling in on the shoreline were a symbol of life endlessly renewing itself and the antics of the sparrows in my garden were the only thing that could raise a smile in the weeks afterwards.

Life has been very tough for so many people over the last few months but we have all been lucky to go through this at a time when new life and hope were evident on every walk. Let’s hope we have all seen the great benefit nature gives to us and how much we need it for our sanity and happiness.

I am pleased to report the farmers that I work with all sound healthy and chipper and keen to welcome me back out onto the land to grab the tail end of spring.

As my beloved father would say, “onwards and upwards.”