Dartford Council officials say they are "disappointed" with eco-activists who launched a peaceful protest outside council offices last week against the redevelopment of the Cotton Marshes.

A number of concerned residents gathered outside the Dartford Civic Centre on Thursday, August 8, to protest about the ongoing development of Crossways business park, particularly as work recently began on the nearby nature reserve known locally as the Cotton Marshes, where four, large industrial units are to be built.

News Shopper:

Protesters gathered outside Dartford Council Offices: Credit: Rebecca Hayat

One such protester, Rebecca Hayat, got in touch with the News Shopper to voice her concern to what she claims is a potential risk to wildlife habitats within the marshes, due to the construction works.

"The wonderful rare and endangered species at the Cotton Marshes are about to lose their home.

"Work has started on the site. Four, large, industrial units will be built. Dartford Council gave planning permission.

"There was no proper environmental survey. They hoped that no one would notice, we did but now it’s too late," she said.

The group also received close to 1,900 signatures for their online petition calling for the works to be stopped.

However, Dartford Council have since released a statement regarding their efforts in which they claim that this is no longer an issue which can be solved by the local authority.

A council spokesperson said: "I’m afraid the handful of protesters who gathered outside the Civic Centre last Thursday are calling upon the Council to do something that cannot be done.

"Planning permission for the Crossways business park was granted more than twenty years ago and it is not unusual for projects of this scale to take many years to ‘build out’.

"Protesters who have taken a recent interest in the development may not be aware that it has been proceeding for at least two decades.

"In that time, Crossways has been responsible for the creation of thousands of jobs and generated significant economic benefit for the town and the wider economy.

"The land involved is part of one of the last phases of the project.

"Although the principle of development at Crossways was established in 1993, the Council nevertheless took the the opportunity of a detailed design submission in 2016 to consider again the environmental issues at the site.

"This work brought together bio-diversity advisors and the Environment Agency and resulted in a demand to retain land for natural habitat, a buffer zone to safeguard wildlife and a number of other conditions imposed upon the scheme.

"We’re disappointed that protesters seem not to recognise the significant amount of work done over many years to secure ecological safeguards on the site or of the Council’s huge commitment to conserve and improve nearby Dartford Marshes to provide one of the finest protected wetland habitats.

"Those who gathered outside the Civic Centre may be unaware of the scale of the Council’s commitment to Dartford Marshes and the work we are doing nearby to safeguard vast swathes of marshland not just for future generations but to provide protected and managed wildlife habitats too.

"The irony is that Dartford Council probably does more to manage, conserve and enhance bio-diversity in marshland habitats than any similar local authority."