Published: 06:00, 17 July 2021
A bid has been launched to make changes at a 715-acre nature reserve to attract rare species and heighten breeding.
It is hoped the modifications at Seasalter Levels, between Whitstable and Faversham, will pave the way for public access to eventually be introduced at the sprawling site which is untouched by human development.
The RSPB has submitted its plans to Canterbury City Council as it attempts to boost the habitat offering at Seasalter by installing more islands, fences, gates, crossing points and cattle handling facilities.
The levels – which is predominantly made up of mudflats, grazing fields and dykes – is one of the prime spots in the UK to see the “vulnerable” curlew, Europe’s largest wading bird.
It is split into zones stretching from the verge of the coastline to Monkshill.
In managing the internationally-recognised wetlands, the RSPB, Natural England and Canterbury and Swale councils have formed a partnership to protect the Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI).
They want to modify the reserve’s water storage system so rainfall can be retained rather than being drained away, as it currently does.
Planning documents state: “To support biodiversity and habitats of regional and national importance, the hydrology at Seasalter will be modified to produce optimal hydrological management for breeding waders such as lapwing and redshank, wintering wildfowl such as teal and wigeon and passerines such as skylark and grasshopper warbler.
“The headline species list will also include non-avian species such as water vole, European eel, rare bumblebees and narrow-leaved water dropwort.
“It is an aspiration of the partnership to provide public access as soon as feasible to an appropriate part of the site for local people and tourists to enjoy the benefits of having a thriving nature reserve on their doorstep.”
Plans to expand Seasalter’s Alberta caravan park by 91 mobile homes were lodged last year and remain undecided. The RSPB has objected to the proposals, stressing how they would cause “significant effects” to the thriving bird population.
The scheme is in the hands of the city council, with a decision due in the coming months.
Also near to the wetlands, Graveney Marshes is set to controversially become home to the UK’s largest solar farm.
Construction work installing the 880,000 solar panels is due to begin this year.