In a few short weeks nightingales will return. They are not amongst our earliest summer migrants so there is still time for the cold that is currently strangling spring to relent.

Fewer nightingales will jug, jug, jug their songs into the night in fewer places than ever before. In common with many long distant migrants they are in trouble – the plight of all these global travellers is going to be a major theme in nature conservation over the years to come.

But for nightingales heading back to one of their most important sites, there is an immediate threat. Over 1% of our nightingales (84 males) sing their hearts out in the scrubby woodland of Lodge Hill in North Kent. Here’s the RSPB Chief Executive on the case.

For them the battle is to find a mate and continue their line. 

But it’s not as simple as that.

The nightingale’s home is threatened by a large housing development. The importance of the site has been recognised, rightly, as a Site of Special Scientific Interest – normally a major sign that the future of Lodge Hill’s nightingales should be taken seriously.

But these are not normal times. How this is resolved is life or death to the nightingales but the way this case turns out (and here's today's news) is likely to send a signal about how our best wildlife sites will fare in the search for economic recovery. As the pressure builds, Martin Harper, RSPB’s Conservation Director  is clear on the significance of this case and calls on Medway Council to tackle a failure of planning and think again on the options for housing.

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