Damson, Goat Willow, Hawthorn and Elder… not cast members from a Harry Potter film, but some of the many species of the trees that developers over the last few years have ripped out because they are apparently ‘low quality’, or ‘over mature’. The other day I was stood on the edge of a site taking a long gaze at the destruction developers are reaping on our wonderful Peninsula, I could see, out of the corner of my eye one of the developers representative giving me a long hard look.
We are all aware of the benefits of trees, for oxygenation and drainage, but trees such as the Damson is a food plant for not only humans, but a large number of butterflies and moths, its flowers attract many pollinating insects. The fruit is also a food source for birds and mammals.
Goat Willow, also known as the pussy willow, is the main food plant for the Purple Emperor butterfly. Its catkins provide an important early source of pollen and nectar for bees and other insects, and birds use goat willow to forage for caterpillars and insects.
Hawthorn, is much loved by insects and invertebrates and nesting birds. At one it was thought that if you burned elder wood you would see the devil! Many residents of the Peninsula believe we know that devil! Elder is also known as the ‘Judas tree’. Judas Iscariot is said to have hung himself from an Elder tree. The removal and destruction of these or any trees flies in the face of Medway Council’s climate emergency .
National Planning Policy Framework 2019 states that planning decisions should enhance the natural and local environment. Medway Local Plan 2003 states developments should seek to retain trees, woodland and hedgerows. Councils should make the most of natural resources, but this apparently doesn’t apply on the Peninsula.
The HIF Project will destroy not only fabulous grade one agricultural land and hedgerows, but trees and wildlife habitats and those natural outdoor spaces that have such a restorative effect on peoples health and well-being. Our Hoo Peninsula for which we are the latest custodians must be protected, we cannot allow this project to be railroaded through on a nod and a wink at Gun Wharf.
So I ask you to join me and demand that Medway Council leave our Peninsula greener in the long term than it is today. Rich in wildlife, a place where people and nature are better connected, a place where children can benefit from green spaces to explore, to learn and to play much like I was lucky enough to do as a boy!
There is a campaign to save Deangate, a ready made country park, from a spur road being driven through it and to open it up for development.If you haven’t yet signed the petition or you have friends and family that haven’t please add your weight. The Peninsula needs your support.