Page last updated at 12:30 GMT, Monday, 13 October 2008 13:30 UK

Rare snail found in town centre

Desmoulin's whorl snail (Picture by Roger Key)
The rare snail is protected by a European Union directive

A colony of rare snails has been found living on the banks of the River Len in the middle of Maidstone town centre.

Desmoulin's whorl snail was found living next to the Wat Tyler Way fly-over and Sainsbury's car park.

Another colony has been discovered recently at Westbere Marshes, east Kent but previously it was thought to be extinct in the county.

The species Vertigo moulinsiana is found at scattered sites across south England from Norfolk to Dorset.

According to the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, recent surveys in England have indicated that Vertigo moulinsiana is not as rare as previously thought.

But it is protected under the Europe European Union Habitats and Species Directive.

Museum curator

The colony was discovered in Maidstone Borough Council's River Len Nature Reserve by Councillor Tony Harwood and the former curator of natural history at Maidstone Museum Eric Philp in July.

Expert scientific advisors have confirmed the identification.

"This exciting discovery comes hot on the heels of a sighting of a rare damselfly by the River Len and confirms the huge value to wildlife and people of urban wild space," said Mr Harwood.

"It is remarkable that the people of Maidstone share their town centre with one of the rarest creatures in Europe."

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