Now you see it, Now you don’t.

 

scrubland-destroyed

In two days this area of scrubland and meadow was destroyed.

Are you feeling as overwhelmed as I am by the rate of destruction of wildlife rich sites around your town? Every day I seem to drive along a road and see a place which last year was full of song birds and slow worms and this year has been ripped apart by would be developers.

 

Last year these sites would have already been given planning permission and be ringed with reptile exclusion fencing this year things have changed. With the government brow beating local councils into providing land for housing then cowboy developers everywhere are seeing the main chance.

Suddenly it seems there is a flood of people ripping out scrub, tearing up meadows, turning over reptile sites with no planning permission, no surveys, no mitigation. In the last few weeks two sites near to my home have gone the way of the bulldozers with not a reptile exclusion fence in sight.

Presumably the landowners feel that in the present climate they can get away with it. After all, isn’t this what the Government wants? Not all this old scrub, bristling with bird song but land laid bare ready for bricks and mortar?

The terrible thing is that these developers are probably right. Natural England has already been stripped to their bones and wildlife officers in local councils have gone the way of the dinosaurs. And I? I can be angry at them all. I can rally and weep and rage against every destruction of meadow and scrubland, every reduction in my quality of life, every step my home makes away from the countryside and into suburbia but I cannot fight them all. The epidemic of destruction is simply too big.

 

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Lodge Hill -Making History

chattenden-wood-4

MLP

Lodge Hill, an area of woodland and scrubland on the edge of Medway is about to become famous. Famous for what depends on whether it is destroyed to make way for 5000 houses or protected because of it’s SSSI status and the fact that it houses the largest colony of nightingales in the South East.

Medway Council, who have just included it as one of the development options in their local plan, wish for the words Lodge Hill to join the likes of Twyford Down and Newbury bypass as a place where protestors gathered to fight to protect our natural places from being destroyed.

This time though the stakes are higher. If destruction of a SSSI goes ahead for development it will green light a whole raft of other proposals and render the laws which protect our countryside invalid. If Lodge Hill goes ahead then no where is safe.

But Lodge Hill could be famous for another reason. For the place where  a local authority refused to bow to the pressure from Westminster to build all over the south east and said, “No. We will drop our support for the development of Lodge Hill and concentrate housing and retail back in town centres.”

If development at Lodge Hill goes ahead it will taint Medway for generations. The area will be associated with protest and dirty politics, the roads will be clogged by cars and we will have destroyed a nightingale colony which should be something of which we are rightly proud and promote as one of the reasons to visit. Is this really the legacy that Medway Council wants?

It is time for us all to stand up and make the name Lodge Hill synonymous with a legacy of which we can be proud.

Voice your protest at the proposed development of Lodge Hill by e-mailing futuremedway@medway.gov.uk

 

 

This is Brownfield

Bakersfield, the brownfield site at the end of my road which was home to hedgehogs, little owls, nightingales, lizards, snakes and turtle doves have been destroyed. I tried to stop it, I couldn’t, but the fact that I tried, helps. Please watch this video and write to McCulloch Homes and Bioscan to condemn their actions.

Another one bites the dust

There it goes. Land at Conyer earmarked for development Copyright: N Chadwick

There it goes. Land at Conyer earmarked for development
Copyright: N Chadwick

Last night I travelled to Conyer Creek. There is a spot on the wall of the old brickfields where you can sit and with a view down the river and hear the nightingales sing. Last night one sang it’s full repertoire, whistling and syruping and twizzling amidst the scrub. It is the last spring that a nightingale will sing from this spot. It is the last spring I can sit at the bend of the creek and see the shelduck fly to the marshes. Conyer Creek, along with seemingly every other little scrubby delight in Kent, has been given over to development.

A company called Pod Architects is developing 24 luxury homes on the site. Twenty Four? I very much doubt this will be the affordable housing the government dupes us into thinking it is supplying. Instead it will be twenty four wealthy people owning second homes with a view of the creek, twenty four portfolio holders buying them up and renting them out at stupid prices.

How can this happen? How can permission be given for the destruction of a site that is so valuable for wildlife when it will only build 24 homes? Of course this part of Conyer is a brownfield site. useless, valueless in the eyes of many, except this is nonsense. Many brownfield sites are highly valuable to wildlife, irreplaceable for insects, reptiles and all those little birds flying across from Africa in the spring only to find the places they traditionally breed given over to hideous toy town developments of fake fishing cottages.

Everywhere I look these sites are going. Conyer Creek destroyed, Bakers Field, a scrubby patch of land at the end of my road where little owls hunts and orchids bloom, threatened, Lodge Hill, the best nightingale site we have, not yet safe. At the same time, on the outskirts of our towns, super large retail developments with mega car parks are built. It does not add up. Does any town centre in the entire country really need another supermarket? Wouldn’t this land be better used for housing? Wouldn’t it be bet to tackle the real problems, over population and too many second homes lying idle all week?

But of course, no government has the stomach for that, and certainly not the current bunch with their hands in developers pockets. It makes me want to weep, it makes me want to emigrate, it makes me want to find a time portal and whip back to another age when we valued our countryside more. Instead I plod  on, into a future where ugly ribbon developments spread out from our towns and we sit in gridlocked in traffic at weekends, trying to escape into a countryside which once existed on our doorsteps.