People Need Nature promotes the value of nature as a source of inspiration for creativity. We are also concerned about the value of nature on public land. When land moves out of public ownership nature can be threatened. This is the case with the plans to develop housing on a large number of former military bases. The most famous of these is the proposed development of Lodge Hill on the Hoo Peninsula in Kent, home to the country’s largest population of Nightingales – as well as many other species and habitats, alongside a fascinating and important military history. Indeed Lodge Hill’s military history is what has enabled such an abundance of wildlife to thrive there.
While we are not part of the campaign to save Lodge Hill, we are interested in its future. Bearing in mind that future may be a 5000 house new town, we were keen to take what may be the last opportunity to discover the wealth of nature and history at Lodge Hill, bring together a group of people who could be inspired by it, bear witness to the extraordinary sense of place there, and create a testament of the place, before it is lost. This testament will be formed from the contributors own pieces, which we will bring together to create a combined piece of work. Its too early to say what this will look like or how it will be presented to the public, but this is the intention.
On the 16th and 17th June a group of writers, artists, conservationists and local campaigners came together to visit Lodge Hill, to explore the many different aspects of its character which combine to create such a unique place.
Access to Lodge Hill is restricted, partly because of its history as a place where the army trained bomb disposal experts (some of the ordnance is still there) and partly because it is still being used for training (the Police were training there on one day we visited, though we did not see them.) So we were fortunate to gain access; thanks to the Defence Infrastructure Organisation for allowing us in.
I have written extensively about Lodge Hill on my own blog, which you can read here; and I will write some personal thoughts about the visit on my blog.
Over the next couple of week, members of the expedition will be contributing their initial reflections on the visit and the place, on this blog.
Please keep an eye out for the latest contributions.