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Anger over Lodge Hill decision

Fri 15 March 2013, 10:09 am

The site of a proposed 5,000-home development near Chattenden has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in a move labelled "astonishing" by Medway Council.

Natural England's decision spells uncertainty for Land Securities and Defence Estates’ plans for the former Lodge Hill military training ground, which Medway said would also deliver 5,000 jobs.

The conservation body said the site's population of nightingales justified the protected status.

In a statement, the council said it was “absurd” for government agency Natural England to be stopping  government department the Ministry of Defence from relinquishing the site, which is believed to contain unexploded ordnance.

“We are deeply unhappy with this decision and will be considering our options,”  it said.

"We find it astonishing this decision has been taken.

"We have worked with Natural England and its predecessors since 1995, as well as other experts, to mitigate the effects such development would have on the around 70 nightingales that live on the site for 12 weeks a year.

“Nightingales aren’t a protected species, and there are numerous similar habitats within the immediate area, as well as elsewhere in Kent and the South East, where they spend three months a year.”

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