The Charnel House Project – protecting our heritage
Set in a Hoo Peninsula landscape that inspired Charles Dickens to write ‘Great Expectations’ and overlooking globally important wetlands lies the village of Cliffe and this photograph from Friends of the North Marshes Flickr photostream shows the opening of the restored Charnel House on the 28th June 2008 – one of only three in the whole of Kent – located in the north west corner of St Helens churchyard.
The Charnel House was restored with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Groundwork Kent & Medway and St Helens PCC. Friends of the North Kent Marshes were proud to be a part of this wonderful project.
Many visitors come to this historic village and as part of the project Friends of the North Kent Marshes produced some free self guided trails around Cliffe to promote and celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of this unique area.
A vision to create one of the country’s best nature reserves for wetland wildlife has inched closer with planning permissions being secured.
This will allow for clean sand, gravel and clay from construction and tunneling work to be used at Cliffe Pools in North Kent; in addition to the river dredgings we have had to date
Working with our commercial partner, Boskalis Westminster, and consultants WYG, we’ll use the excavated material to alter the depth and shape of the man-made lagoons, making them more attractive for wildlife, especially winter migrants and breeding birds such as avocet and common terns.
Development and erosion have reduced the amount of naturally occurring shallow banks and mudflats in the Thames Estuary where birds and other wildlife can feed and breed.
Project Manager Sarah Cooper says: “Cliffe Pools is already a great site for wildlife, but securing these consents allows us over the next few years to create a magnet for waders and wildfowl, which currently struggle to find suitable living space along the Thames. It shows that conservation and business can work together to bring benefits for both wildlife and people. The project perfectly demonstrates the ethos and sense of the European Directives, which encourage such partnerships, and shows why proposals to alter them should be resisted.
Please sign here today to tell politicians not to weaken the European Directives that protect RSPB Cliffe Pools from inappropriate and damaging development such as a Thames Estuary Airport. The consultation closes on the 24th July.
We need you to speak up to save nature. The EU Nature Directives have provided the highest level of protection to vulnerable habitats and species for the past 30 years – but they’re under threat!
European leaders are considering rolling back decades of progress by revising the Directives in the mistaken belief that weaker protection for wildlife is good for business. In reality, this would be bad for business, and a disaster for wildlife. We urgently need you to add your voice to thousands of others below and defend nature. Without a massive demonstration of public support for the Directives, it will be very hard to prevent them being weakened.
Gill Moore, a spokesperson for the Friends of North Kent Marshes, explained that the marshes would not exist without the Nature Directives.
She said: “Our marshland landscapes inspired Charles Dickens to write Great Expectations, and hold a world-class natural heritage so important that it is protected under local, national and international law. The strongest of these laws are the Nature Directives, which protect our globally important wetlands from inappropriate and damaging development.
“These laws were instrumental in stopping an airport at Cliffe in 2003 and, more recently, in September 2014, when the UK Airports Commission ruled out building an airport anywhere in the Greater Thames Estuary or on the Hoo Peninsula. Any weakening of these laws could put our most important wildlife sites in peril. We must now join together to fight any and all attempts to water them down.”
A mini influx of black-winged stilts has brought a touch of the Mediterranean to southern England, as two pairs of these exotic-looking wading birds are attempting to nest at RSPB sites in West Sussex and Kent.
It is thought that a dry spell in southern Spain has displaced these wetland birds to southern Britain. And it is believed that a changing climate may bring these birds to Britain more regularly in future. The only times black-winged stilts have bred successfully in the UK was in Norfolk in 1987 and Nottinghamshire in 1945.
One pair is nesting on the RSPB’s newest reserve in West Sussex, Medmerry, the other pair at the RSPB reserve at Cliffe Pools on the north Kent marshes.
“This is really exciting news and the first time we have had black-winged stilts breeding on the reserve here at Cliffe Pools,” said Warden Andy Daw. “They have visited before and a pair was seen about seven years ago on the reserve but they did not produce any young.
Yet another great reason to protect this special place for wildlife and say #jeThames #noestuaryairport
With 300,000 birds visiting every year we know the Thames is amazing, but we are concerned that the Airports Commission haven’t yet had the chance to really understand how special it is. With all this focus on the Estuary as an airport location, it would be easy to lose sight of the Greater Thames as a place that’s home to six million people. A place that has been at the heart of our country’s economy for centuries, as a base for commercial shipping, intensive farming, heavy industry, power generation but yet is still one of the most important places for nature in the UK.
And a place that we want future generations to be able to enjoy too.
The Commission is currently examining all the technical evidence for and against an airport in the Estuary and they will be consulting on their conclusions later in the summer. But until then, please help us remind them of what is at stake.
The UK Airports Commission are currently calling for evidence and studying 5 inner estuary airport options on the Hoo Peninsula. These options were studied in the run up to the Airports Commission Interim Report announcement in December 2013 when they were published alongside many other documents which can be found here
The five options are
Airports Commission own airport option based on a combination of the above which has sought to minimise cost, environmental impact and avoid relocation of the existing LNG facility 67 Isle of Grain Sift 3 FINAL
We believe that the idea of a Thames estuary airport is deeply flawed on every level