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Kent wildlife site at risk from 5,000 house development

01/12/2011 15:09:54

ICONIC: The area has an important population of nightingales. Picture: Bill Baston

A severe threat to North Kent's nationally important wildlife, warn conservationists

December 2011: A planned 5,000 house development is likely to cause extensive damage to the area's wildlife, says Kent Wildife Trust (KWT), the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (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 object to the outline planning application because of the threat to important wildlife. The development would have a damaging impact on the immediate environment and the neighbouring wood, which is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The site supports nationally important numbers of nightingales, a bird that has decreased by 60 per cent in the past 15 years, as well as bats, lizards, grass snakes, adders, slow worms, newts, frogs, toads, badgers and rare insects.

A development on this scale would be outrageous
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.'

Potentially one of the UK's most important sites for invertebrates
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?"

Regeneration should not be at the expense of wildlife
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.'

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