MVV Environment Ridham Ltd. (MVV) own and operate a biomass (waste wood) energy recovery facility at Ridham Dock near Sittingbourne. Around our site, on land that we own, is an area designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and we have identified the best places within that for wildlife to co-exist with industry to ensure it is protected from possible impacts. In 2018, we appointed Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT) Consultancy Services to assist with manging this area in the best way possible, ensuring the natural habitats that support some very special birds and other wildlife are managed in such a way as to properly protect and complement them.
Beyond the SSSI land in our ownership, we have purchased another piece of land to protect for further biodiversity gain. Our partnership with Kent Wildlife Trust ensures that these habitats are successfully managed and continue to provide a haven for a wide variety of species. We receive regular survey and monitoring reports which show an increase in reptile and water vole populations.
We are delighted with the conservation work that Kent Wildlife Trust have been doing over the last few years and very excited to learn that there are good populations of scarce plants that are characteristic of the North Kent Marshes. The ecologists tell us during their regular visits they have recorded notable species of birds, insects, mammals and plants, showing that industries such as ours really can work with wildlife, given the right kind of management and monitoring.
Through Kent Wildlife Trust’s reporting to us, we are able to see the transformation of our protected wildlife areas and hope that they will eventually be restored to their full potential – they are certainly in safe hands! Even in the few years that Kent Wildlife Trust have been managing and monitoring the sites, we have seen an increase in biodiversity which includes some county-scarce and rare species.
Plant species recorded include the nationally scarce sea clover, annual beard-grass and golden samphire and two species of native orchid. The uncommon green hairstreak butterfly was observed for the first time this year.
One particularly exciting find was the forget-me-not shieldbug; prior to this, The Kent & Medway Biodiversity Records Centre (KMBRC) report that they had only 7 records for Kent, with 5 of those relating to just 2 sites. This record will be included within the forthcoming Kent Shieldbug Atlas, currently in preparation. There are plenty of forget-me-nots on the site so it is likely to be seen again!
Reptiles are also thriving with slow-worms, grass snakes and lizards all present. Kent Wildlife Trust Consultancy Service’s ecologists said they were “very pleased to see plenty of juveniles as well as the adults which obviously indicates successful breeding”.
KWT have also found plenty of evidence of water voles, including feeding signs and latrines. Their ecologists use ‘intra reedbed rafts’, literally home-made rafts, to entice water voles and these have been extremely valuable at our location as the density of the reeds makes looking for field signs quite challenging.
The land beyond the SSSI that we purchased as a compensatory translocation habitat site for water voles and reptiles is working as it was designed to. It appears to meet criteria that show it may be of county importance and KWT will spend more time to see if it can be designated. Water voles are believed to have undergone one of the most serious declines (both in numbers and distribution) of any wild animal in the 20th century so the work that KWT are doing on our behalf is of vital importance to the survival of this species.
Water vole (A Swandale)
MVV look forward to a long and successful partnership with KWT.