Medway Council denies double standards over Lodge Hill plans
The proposed development
of 5,000 homes
by Alan McGuinness
Medway Council has rejected claims of double standards in its
criticism of a wildlife protection ruling that could potentially
scupper plans to build a huge new town on the Hoo Peninsula.
The authority reacted with dismay to the news that Lodge Hill at
Chattenden has been declared a Special Site of Scientific Interest
(SSSI) because of the presence of nightingales.
A spokesman has branded the decision “astonishing”. At the same
time, the council is opposed to an airport on the peninsula because
of the damage it claims it will cause to the wildlife.
Deputy leader Cllr Alan Jarrett (Con) (pictured right) rejected
the suggestion the council was guilty of hypocrisy, and said “it’s
all a matter of scale”.
He added: “Can you provide mitigation [at Lodge Hill]? I would
say you can. What you can’t mitigate for is the destruction of the
majority of the Hoo Peninsula protected by European law.”
He has previously said that if the development did not go ahead
it would be “disastrous”.
It includes 5,000 homes, shops, offices, schools, a doctors’
surgery, two hotels, retirement homes and a garden centre.
Natural England, a government agency, awarded the top
environmental protection after a survey found rare nightingales
moved in after the Army left the area.
The organisation’s executive board ruled last week to expand the
868-acre SSSI already there by 549 acres.
The scheme was in its final stages before the nightingale survey
put it on hold last summer.
George Crozer, who has campaigned against a Thames Estuary
airport for more than a decade, said he punched the air when he
heard the news.
Mr Crozer, who lives close to proposed site in the village of
High Halstow, said: “It strengthens the argument for not putting an
airport here, that the Hoo Peninsula is a precious place we should
be looking after.”
Cllr Jarrett said the SSSI at Lodge Hill did not make a
difference to the case against an airport, as there are already a
number of them on the peninsula.
The council has four months to lodge an objection. If a decision
is taken to fight it, the ruling is likely to be the subject of a
government inquiry. This could take years and cost thousands of
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