Campaigners fear disaster for the endangered songbirds if a plan to build 5,000 homes on a breeding site in Kent is given green light
Robin McKie, science editor
Sunday 28 December 2014 00.05 GMT
It is revered for the beauty of its song and is a beloved adornment to the British countryside. But the nightingale – hailed by Keats as a “light-winged Dryad of the trees” – is now in trouble, having suffered a catastrophic drop in numbers in recent years.
Even worse, say ornithologists, the best site in Britain for protecting the songbird – at Lodge Hill in Medway, Kent – is under threat of destruction. Its loss, they say, could deal an irreparable blow to the nightingale in this country. It could also open the floodgates to commercial exploitation of hundreds of other protected environmental sites across the country.
“Lodge Hill is the only Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the UK that is specifically set up to protect nightingales,” said Sarah Lee, of the RSPB. “It is the most important site for the birds in the UK. Yet the local council want to build 5,000 homes there. It would absolutely destroy the site and the birds’ homes – and send a very worrying signal about the prospects of protecting other critically important sites in the UK.”