New hous­ing pro­posal for Lodge Hill

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Wild News -

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: 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.

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