The Battle of Lodge Hill (part 6)

Our work

Our work
You might be surprised to read that our work is far broader than nature reserves and Big Garden Birdwatch. Read more about what else we do.

Martin Harper's blog

I’ve been the RSPB’s Conservation Director since May 2011. As I settle into the job, I’ll be blogging on all the big conservation topics and providing an inside view of our conservation projects. I hope you enjoy reading it and feel inspired to join in t

The Battle of Lodge Hill (part 6)

  • Comments 4
  • Likes

Yesterday I referred to the challenges migrant birds face when cross the Mediterranean.  Today, I want to return to the threats on their breeding grounds here on the UK and once again ask for your help.

In January this year, I wrote about our ongoing battle to save the (now protected) nationally important population of nightingale at Lodge Hill in Kent (see here).  

Disappointingly – but as predicted – the Ministry of Defence and their delivery partner, Land Securities, submitted a revised Outline Planning Application at the end of February to build around 5,000 homes on this nationally important site for nightingale. 

If this proposal were to succeed, not only would it result in the loss of the only designated site for nightingale in the UK, but it would also seriously undermine the Government’s flagship planning policy – the National Planning Policy Framework.

To recap, a few things to bear in mind about Lodge Hill and this proposal...

  • Lodge Hill is the only SSSI in the UK notified specifically for nightingales and possibly the single most important site for nightingales in the country.  The site is estimated to hold more than 1% of the national population - particularly important given the fact that nightingale numbers have suffered a serious declines in recent years.
  • The proposed development would destroy the majority of nightingale habitat at the site and constitute one of the largest ever losses of a SSSI to development. 
  • Medway Council’s Core Strategy was withdrawn at the end of last year after an independent planning inspector found that the allocation of housing at Lodge Hill was in conflict with the Government’s flagship national planning policy.  This proposal fails to meet the tests set out in Government policy to protect places important for wildlife.  If it is allowed to proceed, it would set a deeply damaging precedent for many of our most special sites for wildlife.

Yesterday, many of you said that you would help encourage the UK Government to end trapping of migrants on a British Military Base in Cyprus.  Today, you can also help protect an important migrant population at home.  Please respond to the Council’s consultation on these plans. With your help, we can send Medway Council the message that it’s completely unacceptable to build on this protected site.  Instead they should look for appropriate alternatives to meet their housing needs.

The updated planning application comprises a staggering five boxes of papers, but this short consultation only runs until 15th April, so please write your letter as soon as you can.  For further details of how to get involved go the ‘How you can help’ page here.

Many thanks for your continued support.

Comments
  • There is guidance but no legal duty other than the general NERC Act duty on public bodies 'to have regard to biodiversity when exercising their functions'.  This project will test whether the guidance is worth the paper on which it is written.

  • Martin, surely it is time for the MoD to have a legal duty to the Environment like the Forestry Commission have had since 1985 ? After all, MoD are now the biggest managers of SSSIs (with FC second) in England. The (sometimes valid) arguments for national defence overriding other considerations simply don't apply to surplus land like Lodge Hill- but I suspect the only duty MoD - and the Treasury - see towards this land is maximising how much it sells for.

  • I thought that was Gandalf in Lord of the Rings...

  • Please be assured of fullest support including writing my letter and asking others to do the same. "Ils sont ne pas passerent"(they shall not pass), my French is terrible but I think it was what Marshall Foch said when defending Verdun in the first world war.