The turtle dove is the most endangered bird in the UK. Its population has declined by 94% since 1995 and has halved in the last five years. But in spring and summer you can still hear their distinctive purring call when you are standing on the railway station at Rye in Sussex, as they nest in the woods that run to the north of the line to Ashford. But for how much longer?
The woods are part of the old school site (the Thomas Peacocke school) ripe for redevelopment, and previous planning permissions granted by Rother District Council stipulated that the woodland should be preserved, as it was of both landscape and biodiversity importance. However the latest proposal, for commercial (but not “affordable”) housing, has been approved by Rother with acceptance of the developer’s proposal to eliminate the woodland. Go to the Rye Conservation Society’s website to see their letter commenting on the council’s treatment of the woodland in planning proposals for the site.
The loss of this woodland will destroy one more precious nesting site for the turtle dove and make life that much sadder for those of us who love Rye and its special character. The woods also have singing blackcaps, chiffchaff and in some of the last ten years singing nightingale. There is a huge amount of evidence to show the value of woodland and green space and birdsong in ensuring better, healthier, lives for us all. And with the example of Australia in front of us we can see only too vividly what climate change from deforestation and carbon emissions is doing to our planet. We need to be planting more trees in and around Rye, not cutting them down.
We have set up a petition which asks the mayors of Rye and Rother, Rother’s chair of planning and their head of planning to think again, and save the Rye station woods. Let’s keep the turtle dove calling and all the beautiful warblers singing that also love Rye station woods. To sign the petition click here
Edward Mayer Swift Conservation swift-conservation.org
Image Credits: David King, CC BY 2.0 .