RSPB membership precludes Pickles from Medway call in decision

Communities secretary Eric Pickles will not decide on whether to call in plans for 5,000 homes at a site identified as an important habitat for nightingales as he is a member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), it has been announced.

Nightingales: Medway site is important habitat
Nightingales: Medway site is important habitat

Medway Council approved the controversial plans for the 5,000 home development on a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) on the Hoo Peninsula in Kent earlier this month.

Since the approval campaign groups, including the RSPB, have campaigned for the public to lobby the secretary of state to call in the application for his own determination.

According to the RSPB, Pickles received more than 11,400 messages asking him to block the plans.

A statement issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government today said: "Given the secretary of state’s membership of the RSPB, the quasi-judicial decision will be made by a different planning minister in line with standard propriety guidance".

The statement said the request for a call-in "is being carefully considered with due process – but this should not be confused with a decision on the merits of the substantive application".

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