A Kent council has suspended all hedge trimming and launched an investigation after metres of hedgerow were decimated, with residents claiming bird nests were disturbed and animals killed.
The local campaign group, Thanet Trees, has posted pictures of what it claims are disturbed hedges from the nest site.
It is against the law to knowingly disturb an active nest or otherwise harm wildlife.
More than 150 campaigners gathered to protest the hedge cutting, which saw gardeners hack back the huge hedge almost down to the roots.
Amelia Gregory, from the Thanet Trees campaign group, said: "It was a disastrous decision to flail these bushes with a completely inappropriate industrial machine, without due checks for nesting birds.
"They've lain waste to elderly ornamental hedging that may never recover, and leaving a huge bird population homeless."
Disturbed nest in hedgerow, utterly destroyed - illegally - during nesting season, by order of Thanet District Council & enacted by incompetent officers & incompetent contractors - legal action must follow & contract must be rescinded immediately #TDCincompetencepic.twitter.com/KvCx4uAU5g— Matthew Shoul (@matthew_shoul) June 5, 2019
The council leader responded to the hedge cutting at Margate Winter Gardens in Kent, by calling for an internal review and cancelling all hedge maintenance until October 1.
The RSPB advises the public not to cut or prune hedges and bushes between March and August due to the likelihood of birds nesting in hedgerows.
Councillor Bob Bayford, Leader of Thanet District Council said: “I want to reassure residents that Thanet District Council is committed to safeguarding our coastline and countryside. Our priority should always be to preserve and enhance Thanet’s biodiversity and natural environment.
"As such, Cllr Ashbee and I have called for an internal review into the hedge maintenance work carried out at the Winter Gardens on Tuesday 4 June. Although Kent Police have confirmed they found no evidence of any disturbance or damage to nesting birds and therefore concluded that no offences have been committed, we are keen to understand the council’s approach to this work, with a view to continuous improvement.
“I can also confirm that there will be no further tree or hedge maintenance work carried out by the council until 1 October. The only exception would be if there are any urgent health and safety concerns identified by our health and safety compliance officer, or if we are served notice by Kent County Council under the Highways Act.”