The deadline for comments on the final draft of the 2013 Bexley Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation review document was about 16 months ago, so Bexley Natural Environment Forum recently wrote to Bexley Council asking when we could expect to see the document approved – see full story at:
Council Biodiversity Officer Ben Thomas has replied as below, so it looks as if the end of the process is now moving into sight.
BNEF appreciates that there are steps in the process that are outside the Council’s control, but it has been sat on the document for what might be looked at as 10% of a whole 10 year review cycle. Given that the SINC and Biodiversity Action Plan documents are at the heart of local nature conservation policy such as it is, it will be understood why pro-wildlife campaigners set considerable store by them being as strong, up to date, accurate and enforceable as possible.
BNEF has now asked what the ‘minor amendments’ and ‘minor mapping amendments’ are, otherwise it’s going to be a chore to try and spot them by combing such a large document in a bid to spot where it differs from the draft, and at the risk of being overly cynical, ‘minor amendments’ could cover a multitude of sins.
In addition, the group has suggested that the Erith Quarry citation will need to be changed, given the scale of the Anderson’s ‘development’ recently approved by Councillors, including the maps. It would like to know in what way, as this could be prejudicial further down the line. BNEF wants to know what decisions, if any, have been made as to how much of the land within the ‘built envelope’ at this site the Council is going to claim is still Grade 1 SINC, the proposed ‘ecology corridors’ being a case in point. It will be unreasonable if, given the transparent and thoroughgoing public scrutiny that appears to have characterised the process regarding all the other sites to date, this is now going to be circumvented in the case of Erith Quarry, where there were concerted attacks on SINC status by the ‘developer’, a block on survey by LWT at the time other sites were being studied, wholly unsubstantiated claims were made that there would be no loss of biodiversity and where any revised citation and mapping would not appear to be open to public comment.
June 19th 2015
We are currently finalising very minor amendments to the SINC document following a response from LWT, in the light of the consultation responses.
We will then be asking LWT to make a couple of minor mapping amendments.
A letter will then be sent to the Wildlife Sites Board for their consideration of the process that has been undertaken.
As can be seen, a couple of the stages above are outside our direct control. Cabinet member approval will be sought as soon as possible after a response has been received from the Wildlife Sites Board. The revised SINC will then be published.