SITES OF IMPORTANCE FOR NATURE CONSERVATION – PUBLIC CONSULTATION
YOUR CHANCE TO SUPPORT HOMES FOR NATURE IN BEXLEY
Chris Rose, Vice-chair Bexley Natural Environment Forum (BNEF)
What’s happening: The review of SINCs highlighted in a previous BRSPB newsletter has now been completed by London Wildlife Trust. See: http://www.bexley.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=12495 or Google ‘Bexley SINCs review’ and scroll to the foot of the page. You only need to look at the 2013 documents.
Bexley Council is now running a public consultation on the results. Any comments should be sent to email@example.com by 5pm Thursday 20 February 2014.
(We have also uploaded the documentation – along with other documents about SINCs – to a cloud site for Greener Bexley users in case the Council site goes awol. You can find the documentation at: https://app.box.com/s/kbgdsygyvlso4bkzrs0c)
1 site should be deleted (now built on and access was not gained to mitigation habitat),
6 sites should be given a higher ranking in the SINC hierarchy,
1 should be downgraded and
2 new sites should be designated.
Some changes to boundaries of sites are advocated, including both additions and deletions. For the first time, a number of strategic ‘wildlife corridors’ are proposed.
Why it’s important to comment – even if we agree: The SINCs list and mapping will form part of the Council’s suite of planning documents which will hold sway until 2026. Council policy is to ‘protect and enhance its biodiversity and geological assets, whilst complying with national and regional policy and guidance by: …. b) protecting, conserving and enhancing Bexley’s Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC);
It is vital that we help get this right now, in order to provide ourselves with the best tools to resist any ‘development’ in the Borough that would damage key homes for nature during the next decade.
BNEF, which has led the review input by Friends of open spaces and conservation groups in the Borough, is largely pleased with the outcome. We will seek a few changes, including to the ‘thumbnail’ citations on the basis of some new species records. However, we strongly urge local conservationists to submit comments, including in support of particular recommendations, because landowners and developers may object to them.
We also need to show decision-makers in the Council that significant numbers of people do value nature, do not agree that it should be sacrificed in pursuit of damaging ‘economic growth’, and are taking a very keen interest in what they are doing. It is not possible to go into detail about the full 300 page content of the review report here, so readers should use the index in part 1 to look up the sites they are most interested in and familiar with.
Comments we would encourage you to make, with particular relevance to birdlife:
Brownfield survey: BNEF argued that the Council should designate some brownfield sites given the increasing recognition of their value for wildlife. LWT did not survey any such sites (part1, p12). It did, however, state that ‘The surveying of all known brownfield sites in Bexley was considered to be a valid proposition as they can be, typically, important for a number rare or declining invertebrates and plants.’ Please request that the Council does this quickly. Cite the land on either side of the track off Norman Road that leads to Crossness Nature Reserve. It is important for Skylark, Ring Plover and Little Ringed Plover and probably harbours rare invertebrates recently found elsewhere on Erith Marshes.
Support Perry Street Farm being designated as a SINC (part3, p288). Proposed by BNEF. Hitherto the largest-remaining non-designated open space in the Borough, it harbours declining species such as Kestrel, lots of House Sparrows and large numbers of Starlings plus Lapwing and Fieldfare in winter. House Martins nest on adjoining houses and overfly the site.
Our Lady of the Angels (part 3, p290). Proposed by BNEF. Ask why the neighbouring Sessile Oak woodland has not been included within the boundary. Has Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Support Barnehurst Golf Course upgrade (part 3, p235). Proposed by BNEF. Good for birds, insects.
WHAT NEXT? The review highlights management issues at a number of sites, which budget cuts may mean the Council cannot deal with. Do consider getting involved in hands-on conservation work in the Borough, and maybe starting a site Friends group where none exists. Please feel free to contact Chris Rose firstname.lastname@example.org about these matters.