Buglife is challenging Natural England following Chris Grayling’s recent decision to consent the development of a port at Tilbury, Essex.

West Tilbury Marshes, a wildlife site within the Thames Estuary Important Invertebrate Area, has been described as “irreplaceable” by insect charity Buglife, who say that the land is considered to be of SSSI quality for endangered species of insects. The Marshes is home to fifteen ‘Section 41’ protected species and 159 species of conservation importance, including 31 red listed species - an outstandingly special assemblage which puts it in the top ten most important sites in the UK for endangered wildlife.

The approval of the port development was partly based on a mitigation plan for the site, which the charity says relies on unproven and untested methods that experts do not believe will save the endangered species.

The development is also planned to be carried out on a site that is already due to be converted into wildflower habitat as part of the restoration plan for a landfill site.

Matt Shardlow, CEO at Buglife said: “We are deeply, deeply saddened not to be able to challenge the gross environmental harm that this development will cause, we are mortified and feel as if we are abandoning these endangered species, but we must listen to advice: if we cannot feasibly challenge the decision, it would be a waste of resources to try.

"However we are now fully determined to take Natural England to task here. They have been complicit in the destruction of Thames Gateway wildlife sites that were home to huge numbers of exceptionally rare species. This must stop and we need a plan that can sustain the remaining threatened species”.