Please count the wildlife and report it!

Many of us are concerned about the outrageous proposal to cover a large part of the marshes at Cleve Hill (Graveney) with 890 acres of solar panels.  However, there is one part of existing law which may make it difficult for the developers to proceed – and that is the law protecting wildlife.  It is the 1981 Wildlife & Countryside Act.  Amongst other things, it makes it illegal to disturb wild birds, their nests, their eggs or their young.

The Act also has a special section, known as Schedule 1, which lists rare species of birds that have extra protection, and the land at Cleve Hill is home to many of those species!  There are about 80 species listed in Schedule 1, though many of those are unlikely to turn up at Cleve Hill.  However, on our doorstep, on Graveney Marshes, you may spot the following Schedule 1 species:  Marsh Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Red Kite, Avocet, Kingfisher and Redwings.

But simply observing those birds is not enough – you need to register the sightings with the Kent Ornithological Society.  Only if you have seen these species and have then recorded them will that influence the planning process.  Initially this needs to be done before the end of the statutory consultation which will commence on 31st May 2018 and close on Friday 13th July 2018.

At the moment the developers are having it all their own way and must be confident that they will gain permission to plant 890 acres of solar panels.  If you feel unhappy about this, then please please do something about it – spot the birds and then record them!

See here for Schedule 1 birds:  http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1981/69/schedule/1

To record bird sightings with Kent Ornithological Society:  http://birdgroups.co.uk/kos/  (you will need to register)

If you are asked for a grid reference, use TR0364, which is the middle of the marsh.

If you want to find the grid reference for a more specific spot go to https://gridreferencefinder.com/

For recording other flora and fauna with Kent & Medway Biological Records Centre:  Submitting Biological Records to KMBRC

If you have any problems, just make a comment below and we’ll attempt to clarify matters for you.

Featured image credit: Nick Goodrum

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7 thoughts on “Please count the wildlife and report it!

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  1. Actually it’s the Archaelogical issues you should also be considering…this was ancient settlers and the first point for the Romans…

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    1. We are keen to follow all possible issues, Paul. If you have any helpful information then please let us know. I have written about the importance of recording bird populations because there is already a law in place that says they should not be disturbed.

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  2. How does this work, please? Do I need to have seen the birds on the targeted fields themselves, or is it enough to have seen them on the Saxon Shore Way footpath or on the other side of the sea wall? And is there a time limit for entering sightings? (Are sightings from last year still recordable?)

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    1. Well, it’s in the nature of birds to move around a lot – how do I give an exact location for a peregrine that I saw flying at 100mph? – which is why I gave a grid reference in the centre of the marsh. Also, much of it is fenced off or ploughed. So I’m sure it’s about your common sense to record birds that you honestly believe are using that land area in some way… Old sightings are OK, but be honest with the date. Thanks for being interested Abigail.

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      1. Thanks for clarifying. I thought it was worth making sure, in case “close enough to be disturbed, but not using the land directly” was important to record. Good to know that older sightings are still useful though – I’ve been too upset about the proposals to be able to walk there much this year, but I do have plenty of notes and photos from last year. No definite sightings on or over the marshes of anything on your shortlist, sadly, but perhaps some of the others will be helpful anyway.

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      2. All other species are of interest – those are the ‘signature species’ that are typical of that piece of land and that ecology. But don’t just get upset Abigail, join GREAT at the Freewheel pub in Graveney every Friday evening at 7.30pm.

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