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Bird Disturbance in North Kent

The impact of recreational disturbance on the birdlife of the North Kent Marshes SPAs/Ramsar sites was identified in the Bird Disturbance Study North Kent in 2010/2011 (pdf, 2,738 KB). The Strategic Access and Recreation Management Plan (SARMP) (pdf, 5,009 KB) prepared for the Thames, Medway and Swale estuaries in 2014 set out a strategy for resolving the additional disturbance issues to the area’s wintering birds, arising from new housing development, through a package of strategic measures.


The North Kent Environmental Planning Group (NKEPG) commissioned work to ascertain the level of disturbance new housing development could cause to bird populations in North Kent.  This work by Footprint Ecology (pdf, 12,709 KB) was concluded in early 2014.


Natural England issued a letter in January 2015 (pdf, 291 KB) advising the following: -


Residential development within 6km of a protected site could cause recreational disturbance and so it is not possible to rule out a likely significant effect.


A further letter of advice (pdf, 137 KB) was issued by Natural England in August 2015.


This subsequent letter has provided clarity over the particular types of development, which could cause recreation disturbance as including houses in multiple occupation and student accommodation. Other uses, including hotels / guesthouses, residential care homes / institutions and camp / caravan sites will be looked at on a case-by-case basis. Furthermore Natural England advise that large developments beyond the 6km zone could also cause impacts and these will again be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Natural England has advised that one single dwelling can cause an impact and so planning applications for development of 1 dwelling or more should either contain sufficient information to enable the Local Authority to undertake an Appropriate Assessment under the Habitats Regulations; or Medway Council would expect to secure a financial contribution. Medway Council have therefore drafted a Unilateral Undertaking for the purposes of securing the contribution, which is £223.58 per dwelling.


Map showing the 6km buffers (pdf, 392KB)

Strategic Access Management and Mitigation - Medway Council Interim Policy Statement (pdf, 1,721KB)

Natural England Bird Disturbance Unilateral Undertaking (Word document, 46KB)

Natural England presentation slides used at Medway's Major Developers Forum 24 June 2015 (pdf, 3736KB)


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