In regard to Natural England’s decision to notify Lodge Hill as an SSSI area, please see a statement from Medway Council below:

A Medway Council spokesman said: “Natural England did not raise any objections until July 2011 despite working with others since the mid 1990s on plans for the development of Lodge Hill.

“However, we now seem to have the absurd situation of a government agency (Natural England) stopping a government department (the Ministry of Defence) from proceeding with their plans to relinquish their former training grounds, an area where there is believed to be unexploded ordnance. We are deeply unhappy with this decision and will be considering our options.

“We find it astonishing this decision has been taken. This is a government site and is former vacant military land. In addition, it is an area earmarked for development for 18 years, and this would help provide 5,000 local jobs and 5,000 homes, which is important for a growing area like Medway.

“We have worked with Natural England and its predecessors since 1995, as well as other experts, to mitigate the effects such a development would have on around 70 nightingales that live on the site for 12 weeks a year and believed that Lodge Hill would not be declared an SSSI. 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.”