Biodiversity, Air and water: Christmas letter to 48 councillors
This is a friendly reminder that legally public bodies have a duty under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 to consider biodiversity in all of their functions. I attach the London Guidance from Natural England and some footnotes as to how this is legally applied. I also attach the Kingston Good Practice Guide, which I imagine most councillors and officers have never seen.
I know some of you are concerned about this, as I have met with you; some of you think that there are officers taking account of these statutory obligations (well they are not) and there are others that think that housing targets are more important than biodiversity- but then you have decided what the law is, and that children don’t need access to nature and clean air for good physical and mental health. If areas are unfit for hedgehogs, are they really fit for us; and didn’t we sign up to the London National Park City?
Remember that the council -as a public body- also has a special planning guidance on biodiversity, which rarely sees the light of day and although out of date has a legal underpinning. There has been no Environmental Impact Assessment on the Issues and Options document; the Environmental Work carried out for the Tolworth Area Plan was not fit for purpose with its proposals to put lighting along the Hogsmill. Impacts require mitigation and should not be ignored. Is the council not aware of the amount of sewage already entering the Hogsmill due to lack of capacity or the recent sewage at Green Lane Recreation Ground, yes it happened again October? https://alisonfure.blogspot.com/2018/10/sewage-spill-green-lane-recreation.html
It is deeply disappointing that not only has biodiversity fallen completely from the agenda of this administration but also any gains that the Biodiversity coalition have made over the past few years has been negated by the destruction and loss of many former wildlife sites such as Sixty Acre Wood (Site of Metropolitan Importance) New Malden Pipe Track (SNCI), Seething Wells- which the council has sought to protect at three Public Inquiries - and now stands back watching its demolition https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huuanu8GSu4
The few planning conditions that we struggle to monitor - now that we have to ask for reports under FOI because of the GDPR regs – are unfulfilled such as bat surveys on Oakhill Lodge prior to demolition.
I am disappointed that after attending the Housing Committee meeting last November in order to put forward the above my question was dismissed by the Chair of the meeting after I has waited all evening to speak. The comments made were that no comment already made by a member of the public could be reiterated by someone else and at 23.00pm my question dismissed with ‘the People will tell us’; well we are trying but we can’t get you to listen especially when meetings are held after midnight.
I was unable to attend the recent Scrutiny panel and the webcast has such poor quality sound, so I was unable to follow the proceedings, but my thoughts are that until biodiversity, air and water quality issues have been properly accounted for, the London Mayor cannot object to us standing for parity with his own strong biodiversity strategy.
The Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act came into force on 1st Oct 2006. Section 40 of the Act requires all public bodies to have regard to biodiversity conservation when carrying out their functions. This is commonly referred to as the ‘biodiversity duty’.
This duty extends to all public bodies the biodiversity duty of Section 74 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW), which placed a duty on Government. The aim of the biodiversity duty is to raise the profile of biodiversity in England and Wales, so that the conservation of biodiversity becomes properly embedded in all relevant policies and decisions made by public authorities.
Section 41 (S41) of the (NERC) Act requires the Secretary of State to publish a list of habitats and species which are of principal importance for the conservation of biodiversity in England.
There are 56 habitats of principal importance included on the S41 list. These are all the habitats in England that were identified as requiring action in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) and continue to be regarded as conservation priorities in the subsequent UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.
Kingston has not adopted a Biodiversity Action Plan pers se but defers to the London’s Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) which is a material consideration within any planning application under the NPPF (see below). The plans exist to:
• Effectively conserve wildlife and remedy deficiencies;
• Develop targets and action plans for the conservation of habitats and species that are of international, national, regional, or local importance;
• Promote access to and enjoyment of wildlife; and
• Resolve conflicts between nature conservation and other interests.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) aims to minimise impacts on biodiversity and provide net gains in biodiversity where possible, contributing to the Government’s commitment to halt the overall decline in biodiversity, including the establishment of coherent ecological networks more resilient to current and future pressures.
Additionally, Kingston Upon Thames Borough Council have published guidance in relation to biodiversity within the ‘’Kingston Upon Thames Core Strategy Adopted – April 2012’’. The following highlights key policies from this document: Policy DM 6BiodiversityThe Council will:
a. Ensure new developments protect and promote biodiversity as part of sustainable design, through the inclusion of sustainable drainage, tree planting, soft landscaping, habitat enhancement and/or improvement, green roofs and new or improved semi natural habitats, where appropriate.
b. Require an ecological assessment on major development proposals, or where a site contains or is next to significant areas of habitat or wildlife potential. This should be completed before design work or submission of the planning application.