Will we hear the nightingales sing again?

Please help save Lodge Hill and stop a damaging precedent for all of England's protected places.


On the Hoo Peninsula in Medway, Kent, sits one of the most important sites in the country for nightingales. Lodge Hill is one of the last strongholds for nightingales in the UK, a bird that has seen its population drop by 90% in only 50 years. The decline of the species is so alarming that nightingales are listed among our most threatened birds on the UK Red List.

The importance of Lodge Hill is so great that in 2013 the Government gave it national protection by declaring it a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for the nightingales, its ancient woodland and rare grassland. However this same land is now being targeted as a prime development location.

Medway Council is currently consulting over which land it will allocate for potential new housing applications as part of its Local Plan Development Options stage. The consultation includes the Council's explicit commitment to allocate Lodge Hill for housing. We know from a previous planning application that they are eager for it to hold 5000 houses. The allocation is set to test the Government’s safeguards that prevent many of our best wildlife havens from being lost to new housing estates and developments.

If this allocation went ahead, it would help pave the way for one of the largest ever losses of a protected site in Britain. If developed, it is likely that 144 hectares of SSSI would be destroyed - about the same as 200 football pitches. We estimate that this would destroy 80% of the nightingales’ homes. The few left would have little future due to the massive new development alongside them. They can't just move - there's nowhere for them to go to.

And should planning permission be granted, not only would we lose one of the best homes in the country for nightingales, but it would undermine the Government’s own tests to prevent damaging development on every other nationally protected area around the country, meaning that they could be at risk from harmful activities in the future too. The Lodge Hill development would set a precedent for all protected sites in England.

Please can you help by sending a response to the Medway Council consultation to ask them not to allocate Lodge Hill for development.

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