The select committee report ‘The Thames Gateway: Laying the Foundations’ highlights the lack of leadership from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the likely effect of this, concluding that ‘Without significant improvement in the overall management of the programme it will remain a series of disjointed projects and is unlikely to achieve its potential.’
The report notes that there are no targets or performance indicators for the protection of the natural environment in the Thames Gateway. The environmental cost of this unplanned and poorly managed regeneration initiative is already apparent: in the absence of any clear environmental blueprint, the region’s biodiversity is being lost to a raft of poor quality housing schemes and inappropriate industrial development.
In Thurrock, a site which supports dozens of rare species, including the brown-banded carder bumblebee Bombus humilis, has been granted planning permission for a huge Royal Mail distribution warehouse and lorry park. The controversial development was approved by the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation – one of the many unelected delivery bodies operating in the region – despite widespread opposition from the local council and nature conservation bodies.
The decision is now being challenged in the courts by Buglife. Dozens of other sites which support rare inverbrates, birds and bats - many of them brownfield sites - are also under threat from the unplanned development sprawl. Says Buglife’s Jamie Roberts ‘For all the grand visions for the Thames estuary, those of us working on the ground see a very different picture: a smash-and-grab raid by developers which is destroying the wildlife that makes the area special.’
For details on Buglife's work to audit and safeguard the nationally important wildlife of the Thames estuary, click here.