Bexley Natural Environment Forum (BNEF) is the umbrella body for Friends of Parks and Open Spaces groups, local wildlife experts and conservationists and sustainability campaigners in the Borough. We work to protect, restore and enhance habitats and biodiversity across Bexley.
Anyone is welcome to attend BNEF’s bi-monthly meetings at Bexley Community Library, Bourne Rd, Old Bexley, which provide an opportunity for affiliated groups and individual members to discuss matters of common concern and to exchange information. We try to have a speaker at some meetings. This may be someone from one of our groups reporting on recent activities, someone from an outside organisation that is pursuing a wildlife-related project affecting Bexley or in some cases Council Officers.
We aim to work with Bexley Council as a ‘critical friend’, making
submissions on matters that will impact biodiversity in the Borough, such as the Local Development Framework and Detailed Policies and Sites documents, the Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation review report and individual planning applications. We always endeavour to make positive proposals for improvements, but are not slow to be openly critical where we believe that the Council has got it wrong or is not going far enough.
We also pass comment on consultations by the Government, GLA and other bodies such as TfL that have local biodiversity implications (such as the NPPF, Biodiversity off-setting proposals, the Mayor’s London Plan and Sustainable Design and Construction Guide and the inquiry on the importance of open spaces in the capital for wildlife).
We used to have regular meetings with Council officers to discuss site management issues and to try and head off or sort out problems over biodiversity matters in Bexley. These have been unilaterally terminated by the Council, without explanation. We have a Service Level Agreement with Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL). Vice-chair Chris Rose has submitted significant numbers of wildlife records to them. We receive Bexley data back on a quarterly basis.
We are leading on various parts of the Bexley Biodiversity Action Plan, such as the survey of all allotment sites for reptiles and amphibians, a new survey for Water Voles on the Cray and Shuttle and the eradication of hybrid Bluebells in Bursted Woods.