27/11/2013
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Government creates more protected areas on Thames Estuary

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The Thames Estuary floodplain holds nationally important numbers of Northern Lapwing and other declining species. Photo: Steve Young (www.birdsonfilm.com).
The Thames Estuary floodplain holds nationally important numbers of Northern Lapwing and other declining species. Photo: Steve Young (www.birdsonfilm.com).
Two areas of the Kent Thames Estuary have now been protected by law, further jeopardising contentious plans for an airport there.

The rich wildlife and landscape of the Thames Estuary have been recognised and given further protection by the British government, a move that will further confound Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who has been backing plans to build a six-runway airport in the estuary. It is yet another clear demonstration that the Thames Estuary is simply the wrong place to build a new airport.

The government has made Lodge Hill, an area on north Kent’s Hoo Peninsular, a legally protected Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to the presence of a nationally important population of Nightingale; the site is vital to the birds’ future. Ministers also labelled the Medway Estuary a Marine Protection Zone (MPZ), extending the area of the Greater Thames Estuary already recognised as being crucially important for its biodiversity.

RSPB Regional Director Chris Corrigan said: “The government’s recognition is welcome news, coming at a time when pressure to sacrifice the environment for a quick economic return is great. It’s reassuring to know the vision of ministers is not clouded, and that they can see the good sense and long-term benefits of protecting and enhancing our amazing Thames landscape.

“Our future in the South-East should be firmly rooted in nature. Having Brown Hare, bees and bird species like Nightingale, Turtle Dove and Northern Lapwing here shows we have a healthy environment, making this a great place in which both business and families can grow.

“We’re hoping we can soon put all these inappropriate developments behind us and work with our partners across the greater landscape of the Thames Estuary to create a world-class, sustainable region.”
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