Target: Medway Council
Goal: Abort the plan to build homes in Lodge Hill, a crucial nightingale mating site
Conservationists celebrated when Natural England, a government advisory organization, recently designated an area called Lodge Hill in the Medway District as a Site of Specific Scientific Interest. But the local government has vowed to challenge the decision and push forward with the plan to build 5,000 new homes in Lodge Hill. Tell the Medway Council that Lodge Hill that development will not come at the cost of diversity and to reconsider the home-building plan.
Natural England is a non-departmental public body responsible for protecting the natural land, water and wildlife resources in England. After reviewing an unused army site in the Medway District, the organization found it to be a crucial breeding ground and habitat for nightingales, as well as other wildlife that live in the area. Natural England declared Lodge Hill a Site of Specific Scientific Interest, meaning that the local governing body must consult with governing bodies to protect the site from development, damage and neglect. Nightingales are listed as having an “Amber Status” by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which means that their population has seen significant declines but is now recovering. The birds’ Amber Status means that efforts to conserve and protect them are crucial now more than ever. The RSPB joined other groups in evaluating a plan by Land Securities, the U.K.’s largest land development firm, to build 5,000 homes in the area and decided that it would result in massive damage to the habitat that hosts bats, snakes, lizards, and badgers in addition to the nightingales.
But the local governing Medway Council has voiced its disappointment with the decision and has vowed to fight back. According to one member, the plan for building the homes is crucial to expanding the local population. The council says that the prime minister has made his emphasis on how important local development is and that the designation of the site as a protected area clearly conflicts with that. It claims that the development plan set forth by Land Securities well integrates the needs for conservation of the local wildlife and that nightingale habitats would be incorporated both on and off site.
As both parties begin to collect their arguments for a July deadline, the need for awareness and support is important now more than ever. Let the Medway Council know that plans for development must respect Natural England’s research and more importantly, wildlife itself.
Dear Mr. Rodney Chambers, Leader of the Medway Council,
The recent decision by Natural England to designate Ridge Hill as a Site of Specific Scientific Interest should be one celebrated not only by the citizens of Medway but by conservationists around the world. Through research and partnerships with other conservation organizations, Natural England was able to determine that Ridge Hill is a site crucial not only to the future of the nightingale population of England, but also other species of lizards, bats, snakes and badgers. As a Site of Specific Scientific Interest, it is now the Medway Council’s job to work with Natural England to ensure that the land and the wildlife there is protected from development, damage and neglect. However, your decision to challenge Natural England’s designation and push for the continued development of 5,000 homes suggests the complete opposite.
Members of the Council have claimed that the plan by developer Land Securities would incorporate and respect the needs of the environment and wildlife at Ridge Hill. Land Securities has stated that they would create both on and off site habitats for the nightingales to breed. Council members have gone so far as to say that Natural England’s decision comes in direct conflict with the Prime Minister’s push for local development. Natural England has the interests of England’s delicate wildlife and environment in mind and to suggest that such a development plan would be sustainable at a time when nightingales are still in recovery is irresponsible. Please act in the interest of the citizens of the whole country and abandon the plan to build the homes on Ridge Hill.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Andreas Eichler via Wikipedia Commons