New housing proposal for Lodge Hill
P lans to develop the UK’s best and most important site for breeding nightingales have been significantly scaled back.
The Government’s housing agency, Homes England, announced at the end of 2018 that it is now only seeking to build 500 houses – not the 5,000 originally proposed by the Ministry of Defence in 2011 – at Lodge Hill on the Hoo Peninsula in Kent.
Lodge Hill provides habitat for an estimated 85 male nightingale territories, 1.5 per cent of the entire UK population, and it was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 2012.
But Medway Council
FIND OUT MORE Read the new proposal: bit.ly/l-hill has long seen Lodge Hill as a location for some of the nearly 30,000 homes it must build over the next two decades, prompting an ongoing battle with conservationists.
With Kent Wildlife Trust, the RSPB has led the fight to stop the development, and it described the Homes England announcement as “encouraging news”, but warned there were still potential risks to the birds.
“Breeding nightingales are extremely vulnerable to disturbance,” says the RSPB’s Adrian Thomas. “Development next to the SSSI could be just as much of a calamity as building on the SSSI itself.” JF
The UK nightingale population has declined by more than 90 per cent in the last 50 years.