Ranger’s Blog – February 2024

20th February 2024

You may have noticed that the Commons are an absolute hive of activity lately. The autumn and winter months are when we do our larger scale project work, since this is when the Commons are least active in terms of flora and fauna; for example, the trees are dormant, and birds are not nesting for breeding. 

Rock clearance on Apsley Street in Rusthall.

The majority of our current management activity is connected to projects to improve the Commons for both wildlife and amenity value. We want to encourage as much wildlife biodiversity as possible, whilst very much at the same time providing people with the most beautiful and safe place to walk, sit, meet friends, picnic, bird or butterfly watch, take photographs, perhaps hug a tree (go on, I dare you!) and to generally relax. Did you know that it’s a scientifically proven fact that getting outside and experiencing wildlife is good for both your heart and soul? Of course, you did, although many of us forget perhaps… 

Talking of safety, we are doing everything we can to make sure that we are always considering the safety of every single person that directly uses or simply passes through the Commons. Naturally, we also want to protect the fragile wildlife that has made its home on our Commons. However, the biggest risk to us, our children (and our many lovely dogs), as well as our badger, fox, deer, dormice and bird friends actually relates to the main roads. I have been worrying a lot about how dangerous some of the roads are. The road through the middle of Tunbridge Wells Common (Major Yorks Road) has a 30mph speed limit, which is entirely appropriate. However, the Langton Road still has a very frightening 40mph limit. Did you know that between 2000 and 2023 there were 53 ‘officially’ recorded accidents on the Langton Road where it runs through the Common! We all know that this road is too fast and how dangerous it is to cross for us and our wildlife. I find it profoundly upsetting having to deal with so many dead or dying animals. It is so dangerous that I know for a fact that wheelchair users and many elderly residents simply don’t even attempt to cross it. Surely it cannot be right that access through a Local Wildlife Site is denied to so many due to it being effectively cut in half by an unnecessarily fast and dangerous road. What do you think? 

Recently, we formally (and optimistically) asked Kent County Council to review and reduce this speed limit from 40mph to 30mph. This would be easy and cheap to do, would be consistent with Major York’s Road, and would only increase the journey time for vehicles by a paltry 16 seconds. However, I regret to say that at the start of January, KCC refused this request, as they do not think that vulnerable groups trying to use the Commons and cross the Langton Road are of sufficient concern to delay drivers by up to 16 seconds. We won’t give up though and would very much appreciate the support of readers as we invite KCC to reconsider their decision. 

On a happier note, don’t forget that there is so much to see and experience on Tunbridge Wells and Rusthall Commons during this time of the year. We have spectacular rock formations which are over 100 million years old (yes, you did read that right!), many beautiful ponds, meadows and glades, wildlife, fabulous trees, ancient trees — and let me tell you something very important; we have some of the finest vistas in Kent. So, please do think about making time to explore more of the Commons. Perhaps visit the Amelia or take in a pint or a meal at one of the fabulous pubs or cafés in the area as you do so (and no, I wasn’t paid to say that). 

Mount Edgcumbe rocks

Daniel Colborne