Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Lodgehill development will be devestating for Nightingales

I have always been a Country boy. Despite being born in Medway I grew up in Marden on the cusp of the Weald. During my A'levels I specialised in biology (mainly ecology and Marine biology) and have always had a love of wide open green spaces and nature as a whole.

I'm also a realist though and understand that the human race needs to strike a balance with nature. New housing has to be built for families and for the economy. I also realise that there is limited space for this in the Medway towns which is why the council are particularly miffed by the whole SSSI declaration on Lodge hill.

But you know what? The council are wrong.

Lodge Hill's SSSI was established because 80 mating pairs of Nightingales nest there. Not just one or two or a percentage of Kentish Nightingales but a significant number of a species that is becoming endangered.

If the Medway Conservative council and Rochester & Strood MP Mark Reckless are successful in their campaign to over turn the Environment agency's ruling there will be a catastrophic impact on the Nightingale population which may never recover.

Ecology and Ecospheres are exceptionally fragile things. Slight fluctuations on temperature, climate or availability of any number of inputs can have knock on impacts for centuries. Two escaped rabbits in Australia caused havoc for a century with the local ecosphere and had to be controlled with myxomatosis. Over fishing of tuna has made a massive dent in the Pelagic shark populations. Removing a vital habitat from an indigenous bird population could push them to the verge of extinction in the UK. The Nightingale's requirements for nesting areas are specific, they aren't like other birds who are less picky, and if an area doesn't match their requirements they simply won't nest there. Further to this with a reoccurring nest site they know it is there, if it is destroyed they have to find a new location which could put back the breeding season and ultimately it could mean no eggs this year.

I find it somewhat nonsensical that on the one hand Cllr Chambers et al are arguing that Boris Island or the Cliffe proposals will damage or irradiate marshland which is an SSI and national heritage site but at the same time willing to wipe out the Nightingales' habitat.

Our nations ecology has been hit quite hard over recent years by destruction of green spaces and the changes in the weather and we as a nation need to take steps now before species like the Nightingale are gone from these shores forever.
Trish Marchant of the Medway Green party is encouraging people who feel the same to write to Natural England (at kent Land management team, Natural England, International house, Dover place, Ashford, Kent TN23 1HU) to voice their support for the SSSI. I join her calls on this and will be speaking to our local party to drum up support.

This is a green and pleasent land but Councils up and down the country are happy to risk serious ecological disaster. As a good friend of mine said when I told her of the Lodge Hill development (quoting Richard Adams);

Man will not rest until they have destroyed this world.

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