Blogger: Adam Murray, Communication Officer

At the age of 11 I moved to Kent and was lucky enough to live in the Garden of England until I left for university to do zoology at the age of 18. Now that I live in beautiful East Anglia, like with all good conservation, it is good to see what your neighbours are doing. This latest story from my old stomping ground is worrying but good to see we have some great partners on board.

“A planning application for a 5,000 house development is likely to cause extensive damage to the area’s wildlife, says Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT), the RSPB and Buglife – the Invertebrate Conservation Trust.

A military site at Lodge Hill near Chattenden has been earmarked for a major housing development. The wildlife groups will object to the outline planning application because of the threat to important wildlife.  The proposal will have a damaging impact on the immediate environment and the neighbouring wood, which is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. For example, the site supports nationally important numbers of nightingales, a bird that has decreased by 60% in the past 15 years, as well as bats, lizards, grass snakes, adders, slow worms, newts, frogs, toads, badgers and rare insects.

Greg Hitchcock of KWT said, “Kent Wildlife Trust, Buglife and the RSPB all recognise the need for homes and jobs for people. Unfortunately the surveys undertaken fall short of accepted standards and the proposals to offset the environmental damage are not only inadequate, but inappropriate in places and contradictory in others.”

Sam Dawes of RSPB said, “It is outrageous that a development of this scale has been proposed on a site that is so important for some of our most iconic birds. Who has not been entranced by the song of the nightingale? The site is one of the most important in England for nightingales, and also supports many other dramatically declining birds”.

Sarah Henshall, Brownfield Conservation Officer of Buglife said “Previous studies of the site indicate that it could potentially be one of the most important sites in the UK for rare and endangered invertebrates including the shrill carder-bee. Invertebrates have largely been overlooked in the development plans - without proper surveys to find out what lives on the site how can they be protected?”

The application also fails to address the potential increased recreational disturbance by approximately 12,000 new residents to the internationally important wetlands of the Thames Medway and Swale.

“All three organisations understand the need for regeneration in North Kent, but believe this should not be at the expense of its much-loved wildlife,” said Sam Dawes. “We all work closely with Medway Council on nature conservation issues and are urging them to listen to our concerns”.

The RSPB, KWT and Buglife are calling for local people to object to the outline planning application by December 6th if they care about the future of North Kent’s wildlife.

So do this Kentish boy a favour and look over the border once in a while and see what is going on. We need to work together to get things done, on a small scale in our back yards to the big scale across the country. UK wildlife is amazing – help us keep it that way.

 

For further information please contact:

KWT: Greg Hitchcock, 01622 662012, greg.hitchcock@kentwildlife.org.uk

RSPB: Rolf Williams, 07767 872585, rolf.williams@rspb.org.uk

Buglife: Sarah Henshall, 01733 201210, sarah.henshall@buglife.org.uk