Deputation request that the council does all in its legal power to halt biodiversity loss forthwith
This post is regarding Biodiversity loss and local extinctions in the borough. It was read at the deputation at the full council meeting 24.4.19 and includes a litany of lost species. Every day I pass this building on Cambridge Road, which reminds me of the house martins that used to nest under the eaves of the previous building - The Peel Pub. In early years the nests used to be poked out, but at least the birds kept coming. Then they stopped coming. Now they can never return as they have been designed out of the system.
The urban gradient in parts of Kingston has increased beyond the tolerance of many urban species, including house sparrows - a UK Priority Species, included on the list of Section 41 under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 - due to its massive decline. This Act confers on the council - a legal duty to protect - and makes this species 'material' in any planning application.
Kingston's own Good Practice Guide requires a 'No Net Loss' of biodiversity in new development, although the national standard now requires that 'Net Gain' is attained; but how are we achieve this requirement under the National Planning Policy Framework, if we do not ask for ecological assessments? Result: Total Footprint Developments, particularly around Kingston Town and New Malden' developments are driving local Biodiversity Extinctions.
Our Edgelands or Greenspaces used for infrastructure: foot paths, 4m cycle lanes, burial grounds, and forest schools all contribute to the nature take with no thought to the impacts. Result: Loss of natural resources (food, niches, nest and roost sites); compaction of ground, tree loss etc.
Broadleaved woodland trees are felled - to be replaced with cherries and whips. We have ceased traditional tree management, such as pollarding. Result: massive loss of mature trees as well as loss of their ecological functions such as water attenuation, oxygen production, nutrient recycling etc.
There is a deficit of nature knowledge in the council with the loss of the Green Spaces Team, and the redundancies of the Tree and Biodiversity Officers. A disbanding of partnerships such as Greenspace Information for Greater London, which is an expectation of the London Mayor that all London boroughs should have a service level agreement with the London Biological Records Centre. As from April's new budget, we no longer contribute to the Thames Landscape Partnership, even though Natural England have designated the Thames and Hogsmill Valley as the Arcadian Landscape in its 'Natural Character Areas'. Result: a shorthand version of running a council not a moral one; no best practice, no British Standards, no adherence to the Kingston Tree Strategy, no recognition of duties and obligations under legislation.
We have a new situation regarding the emerging local plan and the expectation that we will provide a disproportionate number of new homes. Many of these will come from Green Spaces and Green Belt. The Site Assessments contain sites that the council and residents have fought to save in the past, with three public inquiries at Seething Wells. Now draft documents suggest 300+++ houses could be developed at this site, a density far higher than the developers previously attempted. Result: no moral or guiding filter on the choice of development sites, a free-for-all message, unquantifiable biodiversty losses and a loss of the most protected site in the borough.
Here is a list of species lost or no longer at viable population levels in the borough during the last ten years,:
House sparrow colonies depletted or gone at the Gasholder site 2017, Cambridge Road, 2017 etc;
House martin colonies (few left mainly Berrylands area);
Sand martins (lost from Ravens Ait, Seething Wells, Hogsmill at Kingsmeadow);
Willow Warbler (completely lost through climate change);
Bullfinches (former strongholds Berrylands and Tolworth, reflects national decline);
Greenfinch and chaffinch (district declines through disease and habitat loss);
Skylarks and meadow pippit (only Rushett Farm Chessington, disturbance causes breeding failures;
200 lapwings used to fly over Seething Wells;
water voles gone from the Hogsmill;
hedgehogs now only seen southern cone of borough (added to Section 41 list due to national decline)
Serotine bat only occassional records of bats passing along Thames;
Loss is unquantifiable but the only local population of glow worms is threatened by a current planning application.