It is now about 1 year and 4 months since the deadline for comments on what was supposed to be the final draft of Bexley’s Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) review document.
Quite apart from the fact that BNEF put a huge amount of effort into contributing data to that document, this is – or at least should be – a key consideration in planning decisions and, as you know, new sites are proposed, along with some ‘promotions’ and expansions of boundaries. We are not happy that decisions are being taken that have the potential to affect actual or potential SINC land whilst this document appears to be gathering dust on a virtual shelf somewhere.
Even allowing for late admission of the privately-funded ‘ecologist’s’ report on Erith Quarry, six months has gone by since that document was published and two since the planning committee decided unanimously that Grade 1 SINC status doesn’t count for much. In any case a decision can’t be repeatedly put off every time a new planning application affecting a SINC looms over the horizon, otherwise we’ve now got to wait until the fate of Old Farm Park is decided and Crayford Rough is sorted out and so on.
Whilst we applaud the fact that the Council funded a 10 year review, when many other authorities have not done likewise, the delay in sign off and other events since, give the impression that this effort and the biodiversity to which it relates is not being taken seriously enough.
A recent BNEF meeting agreed that we should write formally to the Council about our serious concerns on this matter and we would now be grateful if you could enlighten us as to the process and timetable for finally getting the ‘new’ SINC document adopted by the Council.
Yours sincerely, Chris Rose. Vice-chair, Bexley Natural Environment Forum.