Environmental destruction on a scale not seen for more than 20 years1 will be caused by a decision to build on one of the most important wildlife areas in the country and home to the largest population of nightingale in England.
The council-approved planning application will see up to 5,000 homes built on Lodge Hill and Chattenden Woods - an area officially recognised for its wildlife value and designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Against the advice of Kent Wildlife Trust, the RSPB, Natural England and many other experts, and against the wishes of local people, the application to build on these precious areas was last night unanimously approved by the 15 planning committee members present.
Lodge Hill also contains ancient woodland and important grassland - of which 92% will be lost through the development - which are home to rare Duke of Burgundy butterflies, badgers, owls, bats, reptiles, amphibians and many other species.
The area is the only one in the UK to be designated for nightingales, a summer visitor to the UK, but 83% of the population here will be lost. This bird, famed throughout history due to its melodious call, is already under threat in the UK from habitat loss and fragmentation.