Turtle Doves to lose out this Christmas as Kent hotel and leisure development looms – here’s how you can help

Please read to the end to see how you can help oppose these plans by responding to the proposed applications by 21 and 28 December. 

The sound of “purring” Turtle Doves could be lost from Betteshanger Country Park if two planning applications submitted for this area go ahead. These developments could see a 120 bed hotel and spa along with a large surfing lagoon called The SeaHive take over the landscape in this Kent country park near Deal, causing a huge loss of homes for wildlife. 

Proposed hotel and surfing lagoon threaten wildlife  

The RSPB is challenging Dover District Council to consider the protection of biodiversity in Betteshanger Country Park, especially of threatened species such as Turtle Doves, suggesting territories located here could be lost if two planning applications go ahead. 

Famed for being part of the song Twelve Days of Christmas, Turtle Doves are sadly the fastest declining breeding bird in the UK, having suffered population reductions of 98% since the 1970s. Kent is a stronghold for this migratory dove, supporting approximately one third of the population in England.  

Agreed Turtle Dove mitigation at risk  

These proposed planning schemes also put at risk previously agreed mitigation for Turtle Doves as part of another development plan already approved  200 new homes at neighbouring Betteshanger Grove. 

“Although the creation of new foraging areas, along with ponds, scrub enhancement and supplementary feeding will still go ahead for this species in the park as part of the agreed mitigation from the development at Betteshanger Grove, we believe the value of this mitigation, along with the Turtle Dove populations that the park currently supports, is at risk,” says Nicole Khan, RSPB Conservation Officer.  

“This is because the new hotel and surfing lagoon developments will be built adjacent to some of these mitigation areas. And with the Ecological Appraisal for the developments suggesting levels of disturbance could increase in the park, we believe this undermines the original mitigation planned, putting an already threatened species at further risk.” 

Species affected by the developments 

Along with Turtle Doves, other threatened species will also suffer due to the proposed plans, with two Skylark territories expected to be lost. 

The SeaHive surfing lagoon development would also lead to a direct loss of over 3 hectares of important grassland, including a site that supports rare Lizard Orchid plants. 

Here’s how you can help 

You can object and leave your comment on the potential developments as the dates of determination move quickly closer, which are the 21 December for the hotel and 28 December for SeaHive. 

You can use our suggested comment below or write one of your own to help protect important homes for wildlife at Betteshanger Country Park. 

Example comment 

I object to this planning application as it would be detrimental for wildlife in Betteshanger Country Park, including for threatened species such as Turtle Doves, Skylarks and Lizard Orchids. It also puts at risk the value of previous mitigation for Turtle Doves agreed as part of the development at Betteshanger Grove. 

 If you are able to do this before the 21 December (hotel) and 28 December (SeaHive) then this would help your views to be counted before final applications are granted. 

Thank you for helping us speak up for nature, and especially Turtle Doves this Christmas.  


Main image: Turtle dove, Streptopelia turtur, adult perched on stick, Lincolnshire, July. Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com).