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