Here we go again, another fight to save protected places from destruction in the heart of our community on the Hoo Peninsula in Medway, Kent!
Previously it was the NoAirport@Cliffe and Thames Estuary Airport campaigns; now it is the nation’s best site for nightingales, which Medway Council wants to allocate for up to 5,000 houses.
For us, the crux of the matter is that Lodge Hill Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is meant to be protected. As far as we can see, the national planning guidance is clear – SSSIs are a last resort for development. We fought the airport campaigns on the basis that it would destroy sites of national and international importance. And Medway Council fought with us, shoulder to shoulder.
That’s why we’re so disappointed that the Council seems so determined to destroy Lodge Hill SSSI. It would actually be an own goal, for if they set this precedent and weaken the protection afforded to protected sites, we will all have less chance to save other protected places in future. And we all lose something that makes Medway special.
The bottom line is that if Medway Council allocates Lodge Hill, then nowhere is safe.
However, we understand that the human population of Medway is growing, and there is great pressure to find space for housing, especially affordable housing. And we realise it is very inconvenient that this MoD site, hidden away for over 100 years, should turn out to have secret treasures that were never going to come to light until someone was allowed to look.
But the nightingales and the rare meadows ARE there. Medway Council needs to accept it, be proud of it, and come up with a Plan B for Lodge Hill, something that looks after the nightingales and offers something good for the people of Medway and beyond.