Last night Medway Council voted to grant planning permission for 5,000 houses at Lodge Hill.
Lodge Hill, a former military site near Chattenden, holds one of our highest legal protections for wildlife and is home to species such as the Duke of Burgundy butterfly, Brown banded carder bee and Dingy skipper butterfly, amongst others.
The application has been strongly opposed by Buglife as it puts rare bugs under threat and if the development goes ahead it will lead to one of the largest losses in history of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. As well as failing to comply with national and local planning policies in place to protect the environment, there are major flaws in the environmental information submitted with the application. This has prevented an accurate assessment of this development’s impact on wildlife at Lodge Hill, including rare and endangered bugs, from taking place.
Alice Farr, Planning Manager said “This decision is extremely disappointing and could set a dangerous precedent for nature. The site is legally protected and is clearly fantastic for wildlife. Species such as the Brown banded carder bee can be found onsite. Over 60% of all Bumblebee species are in decline and numbers of Brown banded carder bees have more than halved in the last 25 years. We need to offer a life-line to these species rather than further reducing their habitats and making survival even harder.”
The decision to grant planning permission is despite objections from Buglife, Kent Wildife Trust and the RSPB. It also goes against advice from Natural England and will have to be referred to the Secretary of State for final decision.