We are firmly of the view that Lodge Hill is not the right place to build up to 5,000 houses.
Preliminary results from the British Trust for Ornithology's 2012 National Nightingale Survey indicate the Lodge Hill area supports 84 singing male nightingales, with the majority on the proposed development site (this is around 1.3 per cent of the UK population). Visit our nightingale page to hear this wonderful songbird in full voice and imagine what 84 would sound like!
This number of nightingales means it is likely to be one of the most important places for nightingales in Kent and possibly the country. It should be safeguarded for the nation. As well as direct loss of habitat, the proposed development would mean increased recreational disturbance and cat predation within any remaining habitat, jeopardising any birds that remain. Nightingales nest low down in scrub and on the ground – making them exceptionally vulnerable to predation and disturbance.
We have objected to an outline planning application for the development, and called for the Lodge Hill Strategic Allocation of up to 5,000 houses to be removed from the Medway Core Strategy.
There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the how successful compensatory habitat can be for nightingales and in this case we think there are far too many caveats. In essence, we believe that the risks to the nightingale population - if the development were to proceed - are simply too high.
We recognise the need for Medway to identify land for - and build - new houses in the District, but we firmly believe that more environmentally sustainable locations should be found.
We believe that the national importance of the nightingale population on the Hoo Peninsula presents a fantastic opportunity to promote the understanding, conservation and enjoyment of an iconic bird, and the very special qualities of the area. We look forward to working with Medway Council and other partners to achieve this.