Biodiversity in Capel is a key aspect of the area’s character and needs to be protected. Wildlife habitat is shrinking nationally, and globally, and the huge loss of countryside that the proposals for Capel will incur can only have a detrimental effect on our fauna and flora, and the environment as a whole. Mitigation and net gain will be quoted, but these are invariably platitudes to justify the damage that will be caused, and little measurement is ever done to demonstrate the loss and, not surprisingly, any gain tends to be focused only on where it might be seen (garden birds…. but not rats). There will be mention of bird boxes and bat boxes, hedgehog huts and dormice corridors, as though wildlife needs to civilise and come down from the trees, out of the hedgerows and fields and into little packaged houses and learn the right of way; a microcosm of the crushed human and car-driven developments that will inevitably arise if the proposals proceed. 

A team to focus on biodiversity was established at the start of the campaign, as it is essential to understand the natural world that we share our area with, to protect and mitigate any harm to arise through housing development and proposals to industrialise the area, such as gravel excavation in the north of the parish. Unfortunately, that damage has already started. One of the old quarries between Moat Farm and the Medway is being re-dug. It used to swarm with a diversity of waterbirds, including swans and geese, grebes, pochards, tufted and shoveler ducks, coots and moorhens. How different will it be for the wildlife who depend upon and thrive in our fields and orchards? Unfortunately, the outlook is bleak when planning officers in TWBC appear to have no real understanding, or concern, for the impact their proposals will have. For example, in suggesting how to mitigate the loss of habitat in Capel, better management of council woodland was suggested; when it was pointed out that the loss of habitat was primarily fields, and therefore different species, they suggested improving field headlands – exactly the areas that would be lost!

Just as concerning is the apparent lack of any real consideration of the cumulative impact of the developments across Capel, with Tudeley in the west to East Capel, linked by gravel extraction in the north and new roadways. The squeeze on wildlife will be huge, with rare field birds having less and less area to fit into, and mammals having to cross into the human environment. But the developers, TWBC and KCC view each of their projects in isolation, with scant regard for the human community that will be adversely affected, let along the natural world.

A key output of the team’s work is a report which we would ask you to read. It is important that we record wildlife in the area, which is done through the Kent & Medway Biological Records Centre. The report shows you how to do this, but so will images of wildlife and plants you may see in the area. All of the pictures in the report were taken in the parish but the gallery needs to grow – not to capture what will be lost, but to show what exists in Capel that we need to protect.