Press Release: Help Save Lodge Hill from Development Say Medway Greens

Medway Greens call on local residents to write to Natural England.

In contrast with other local parties, the Medway Green Party is calling on Medway residents to save local wildlife and biodiversity by writing to Natural England in support of the Chattenden Woods and Lodge Hill SSSI notification.

Natural England has stated that any comments on their decision should be sent to them by 15th July 2013. If upheld, the decision will help protect the Lodge Hill and Chattenden Woods areas from development. These areas have been identified by Natural England as collectively supporting a nationally important number of breeding nightingales, as well as making a contribution to preserving biodiversity in England.

This decision is in conflict with a planning application, strongly supported by elected Medway Councillors, which includes the building of 5,000 houses, as well as business, retail, and community premises, four schools, two hotels and a garden centre.

Trish Marchant, Medway Green Party Co-ordinator says:

“The Medway Greens believe that Natural England is right to make this decision. The majority of arguments for building another town at Lodge Hill are framed in terms of economic development. Our elected politicians in Medway and in national government seem to want to make us think, that, as long as an initiative would make money, any other consideration is laughable. This is following the normal short sighted approach of putting unsustainable economic growth ahead of any other considerations”.

“We need to rethink our approach. We need to think about how we can build a society which encourages cooperation rather than competition, both locally and globally – a society of cooperation between people, which supports the natural world and other species”.

Trish adds:

“The Medway Green Party recognises the need for jobs in Medway, but jobs can be provided in other ways that don’t wreck the natural environment. The Green Party advocate investing in Green jobs. These jobs would create sustainable energy solutions, rather than yet more retail developments with low paid, unskilled work.”

“Additionally, we need to look at the amount of empty properties in Medway, before considering building another town. We need to consider how we can better improve the use of existing facilities rather than sacrificing important natural habitats.”

Along with the cuckoos which risk extinction, having decreased by 60% in the last 15 years, the area also homes two badger sets, six species of bats, lizards, grass snakes, adders, slow worms, newts, frogs, toads and rare insects, including the shrill carder bumblebee. It also contains ancient semi‐natural woodland, which cannot be replaced, and unimproved neutral grassland which is the single most threatened type of grassland in the UK. Natural England claim that both the habitats of Chattenden Woods and Lodge Hill need to be retained as Nightingales breed throughout the area.

Medway Council however suggest that the decision by Natural England is against local community decision making.

Trish comments: “The Green Party advocate real local democracy. In contrast with what Medway Council claim, the vast majority of local residents, who have registered an opinion, would rather preserve the area. Opposition to the planning proposal is by a ratio of 165 to 3. It is ironic that Medway Council are attempting to claim that the decision is against local community decision making, when it seems that, instead, it is Medway Council who are attempting to impose their will on local residents”.

Natural England can be contacted by writing to the following address:

Kent Land Management Team
Natural England
International House
Dover Place
Ashford
Kent
TN23 1HU

ENDS

Notes for editor:

Information gathered from:

Natural England: http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/lodge-hill-meeting-paper-11march2012_tcm6-35509.pdf

Kent Wildlife Trust: http://www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/

West Kent Badger Group: http://www.wkbg.org.uk/

Woodland Trust: http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/en/why-woods-matter/what-are-they/types/ancient-woodland/planted-ancient-woodland-sites/Pages/semi-natural.aspx?gclid=CPrr74zT67YCFWbKtAodGnQAqQ#.UXwv36LqlSI

Wiltshire County Council: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/communityandliving/countryside/biodiversityandnature/countrysidehabitats/habitatsunimprovedneutralgrassland.htm

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