Home   Medway   News   Article

Fears for protected nightingales after bulldozer reported at Lodge Hill site

Anti-development campaigners fear a protected nightingale habitat could be damaged after a bulldozer was spotted clearing land at the controversial Lodge Hill site.

Plans to build 5,000 homes on the former MoD site near Rochester, declared an area of national scientific interest, were withdrawn for the second time last year - but are seemingly back on the table after Homes England took ownership of the land earlier this year.

No permission for development has been granted, but residents have today reported contractors carrying out clearance work.

Scroll down for video

Reported clearance work at Lodge Hill. Picture: Tony Broad
Reported clearance work at Lodge Hill. Picture: Tony Broad

George Crozer, chairman of High Halstow parish council and a lead campaigner against development in the area, reported on Facebook: "CLEARANCE within LODGE HILL today 22 February.

"We discovered today that clearance similar and adjacent to the Golf Course clearance is underway inside the perimeter of lodge hill, the SSSi site.

"On questioning contractors on site we were told it was routine maintenance.

"We are uncertain whether this works will be seen as damaging the SSSi so we have referred it to RSPB as our best route to Natural England the governing body for Nationally protected sites."

Other residents took to Facebook to express fears for the protected habitat after seeing pictures captured by a drone.

Reported clearance work at Lodge Hill. Picture: Tony Broad
Reported clearance work at Lodge Hill. Picture: Tony Broad

"That’s a large de-foliage machine," said one. "Cutting down the grass there. And anything else that gets in the way as well. Flora and fauna."

Others feared that nesting sites would be destroyed, with one adding: "So is this to clear all nesting sites for when nightingales return?"

"This is so wrong."

Another said: "As nightingales are a ground nesting bird it would totally destroy their habitat!"

Homes England confirmed minor works were being carried out at the site, but said these were being done with consent from Natural England.

Spokeswoman Lisa Cattanach said: "Homes England remains committed to bringing forward new homes at Lodge Hill in line with government policy to use surplus public land to bring forward the delivery of new homes, but in a manner that is sensitive to important environmental considerations.

"We recognise the importance of ensuring development at Lodge Hill is sensitive to its environmental constraints. The work that is currently underway on site is routine grounds maintenance work as well as permitted works within an assent provided by Natural England and requested by them. The work will be on-going for the next four to six weeks as part of a programme discussed and agreed with Natural England.

"We are currently developing our options for the site and will publish proposals later this year. We will proactively communicate with the local community at this time."

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More