An urgent and welcome update from Adrian Thomas, #SaveLodgeHill campaign manager
Today (5 September 2017), news came through that the planning application for 5,000 houses at Lodge Hill, Medway, that would effectively have destroyed the best site for nightingales in Britain, has been withdrawn. Hoorah!
It is a major milestone in the battle to #SaveLodgeHill, and indeed a moment to cheer. If you were one of those 12,000 people who in 2014 asked the government to 'call in' the application after Medway Council had ignored the evidence and approved it, you can feel very proud.
So, too, can the 10,000 people who this year called on Medway Council to remove Lodge Hill from its draft Local Plan. Although we won't know whether the Council has listened until the next draft of the Plan comes out in 2018, your responses were another very visible demonstration of how deeply, deeply unpopular concreting over Lodge Hill would be. For the nightingales it would be calamitous; so, too, the damaging precedent it would set for every protected site across the nation.
I'm sure when you take part in a campaign, it can seem like a little voice in the wilderness, but the strength comes when those voices combine. Our heartfelt thank you.
Nightingale - photo credit Andy Hay RSPB_Images
Without wanting to dampen the party spirit, this is where I need to give a note of caution. For one thing, Medway Council may still try to allocate Lodge Hill for development in their Local Plan, so please be ready to help should we need to fight in 2018.
Also, we don't know what the 'developers' will now do. Have they got something else up their sleeves? (By the way, if you were wondering who the 'developers' are, then it is my shorthand for the government agencies that have responsibility for Lodge Hill. The last we knew, it was the responsibility of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), which is part of the Ministry of Defence, but they were due to transfer it to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) . Bottom line – Lodge Hill is owned by the nation.)
No matter! For now, the government's agencies have done the right thing, and we thank them for that. What is important now is that attention must turn to a new, brighter future for Lodge Hill that protects this amazing place and its wildlife for the nation, and benefits the people of Medway and beyond.
We call on those responsible for Lodge Hill to start exploring those options now, for the good of everyone.
Great news, so well done RSPB you are brilliant.
In my haste yesterday I failed to include an edit at the end of the post - which I have now done. Doesn't change the overall message - keep celebrating!
As this is publicly owned land the site has become an indicator for the Government's commitment to biodiversity. Every public authority involved is required by S.40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 to have regard to the purpose of conserving biodiversity.
Sense prevails, fantastic.
Great news! Here's hoping the nightingales were the reason.
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