‘He’s in tears’: YouTube pond enthusiast from Willingdon told to clear his garden

A man from Willingdon who has dedicated his garden to improving biodiversity has been told by the council to clear it in a month.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 4:54 pm

Peter Birchall, 59 and also known by many as ‘Pete the Pond’, has created an ‘eco-paradise’ in his back garden with a number of ponds, flowers and rare pond plants.

Building ponds and creating natural habitats is Peter’s full time job and passion, according to his daughter Kerrie.

Peter did a pond warden course in 2000 and became the voluntary pond warden for Willingdon and Jevington parish. He went on to teach pond warden courses and his business has grown from there.

Pete the Pond SUS-210303-124335001
Pete the Pond SUS-210303-124335001

Peter works with a number of organisations including the National Trust, RSPD and the Sussex and Kent Wildlife Trust.

Liz Jameson, a friend of Peter, said, “He is a complete one-off eco-centric. He devotes his whole life to ponds and pond life for the sake of England’s environment and the little creatures who rely on them.

“Pete is a bit of a celebrity when it comes to ponds.”

He even has a YouTube channel which features videos around his creations and he recently met Countyfile presenter Tom Heap to talk about biodiversity.

Some of Peter's back garden SUS-210303-154933001

On March 3 Peter said he was told by Wealden District Council that he needs to remove all the features in his back garden within 28 days because the council sees it as a ‘commercial enterprise’.

Kerrie said, “They are asking him to remove his complete reference library of 180+ native flora species that he studies and teaches from for many people – they are saying it is a commercial enterprise.

“Dad grows plants to put back into ponds to increase biodiversity of our native flora which is being lost at an alarming rate as are the species living on them.

“They also didn’t like that he had some scraps of wood lying about which he told them he uses to build bird and bug houses. They completely dismissed this and told him that the wood is just waste.”

Liz said, “He is in tears. To remove what he’s worked his life to nurture is tantamount to bio-diversity and flora murder.”

Kerrie and Liz both said how much Peter is struggling since receiving the order given from the council.

In response to the situation, a spokesperson for Wealden District Council said, “The property is currently the subject of an ongoing investigation regarding the commercial use of a domestic property, untidy land and possible environmental health concerns.”

Peter has until the end of the month to clear his garden.

Peter’s YoutTube channel: https://youtube.com/c/PetethePond