Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40-45)|
TUESDAY 16 OCTOBER 2001
40. Yes, but what we are addressing now is how
that is done and maintained in a way that it is usable to the
public and not destroying their lives, we are trying to get beyond
that. Could I ask you how English Nature relates to regional assemblies,
in terms of regional strategy, and local authorities, in terms
of local strategy?
(Sir Martin Doughty) English Nature has been addressing
the regional agenda. That is very important as there is now much
more implementation in the regions. We were discussing at English
Nature only a couple of days ago the need for me and the Chief
Executive to actually go round to each region, particularly to
the regional assemblies, to talk about the biodiversity issues
that we feel strongly about, particularly the issues of wildlife
and people and the fact that that can be of economic value to
an area. We are looking, for instance, at wildlife tourism, in
some areas, that that is firmly entrenched within the way that
regional strategies are being developed. And, clearly, the RDAs,
the regional assemblies, the Government Office, Countryside Agency,
ourselves, English Heritage, are all key players in that and we
want to play our full part in that.
41. Are you satisfied that, in practice, the
biodiversity action plans are addressing the issue of open space?
(Sir Martin Doughty) No, I am not satisfied that the
biodiversity action plans in some places have, in fact, got beyond
the stage of being plans, and we are back to this implementation
issue and resourcing issue. And one of the key elements of our
submission is that PPG17 should very firmly embrace biodiversity
action plans as part of its process, and there are other issues
in rural areas and in areas of high nature conservation value
that biodiversity action plans need to take account of, but there
is particularly a need for getting on with implementation.
42. Is English Nature involved in developing
community strategies at a local level, and in what other ways
do you work with local authorities; or how do you see the potential
for that, and how would you like to see the PPG adjusted to make
that easier, if that is appropriate?
(Sir Martin Doughty) I think there is great potential
for that, and the answer is it is probably quite patchy; but I
will let Sue answer that one.
(Ms Collins) I think it is at several levels. We need
a commitment in the PPG to the sorts of objectives that we have
been discussing, and then, the community strategies, to help implement
the commitment. In English Nature we are not able to engage with
all community strategies, bottom up, because we do not have sufficient
people on the ground; but we are creating a web site with a resource
for community strategy-makers, which shows them what they have
got in their local area, in terms of biodiversity, what the targets
are in the national biodiversity strategy that are relevant to
their area, so to try to empower people who are involved at the
local level with information that is relevant. And then, in a
certain number of places, we are actually engaging in developing
community strategies, and perhaps Nick can add to this, to help
get best practice that could be mirrored elsewhere; because we
see great potential in these for actually operationalising the
targets and the philosophy that we have that green space is important.
43. In answering that, could you relate that
to the PPG?
(Mr Radford) Our community strategies are actually
at a very early stage, particularly in my patch, across London,
we have only got, I think, two local authorities that have actually
started the process. As Sue says, we would be offering them advice
in all sorts of ways, particularly at the moment we are thinking
of offering advice through our web site. In the past, we have
been working closely with local authorities on the local agenda
21 strategies, those were the predecessors of community strategies,
but we are working with local authorities in all sorts of ways,
and programmes of local nature reserve declarations, commenting
on their UDPs, their development control, and so on, looking for
opportunities that way, all the time.
44. Can I ask you, finally, is there a conflict
between green space and sport?
(Sir Martin Doughty) There is not, if the conflict
is managed out of the process. We are not saying that the emphasis
given to sport is not important, we are saying that the emphasis
given to open space, in a sense, has almost been tagged onto the
end of this, in the way that it has been developed. We are saying,
for instance, that many of the issues of sport, particularly in
terms of more informal sport, rather than the major stadium development,
can be quite perfectly integrated into other activities, including
the things that we are responsible for, the enhancement of biodiversity.
But a lot of that comes down to the ultimate management of the
resource, the need to make sure that there are sufficient funds
to be able to do that, on a proper strategy of management that
the funds can deliver that against.
45. Can I give you an example. There are some
tennis courts in my constituency which are totally neglected;
now, they are pretty good for wildlife, but, in sport terms, they
ought to be refurbished: which should have the priority?
(Sir Martin Doughty) I would probably leave that to
the local Member to actually have the final say on it, but there
are ways to deal with that. There are related issues. For instance,
there are about 250, I think, of what we would describe as brownfield
sites in the London area which have quite substantial biodiversity
interests. So there are issues in terms of developing brownfield
sites, whether you should not develop some of those because of
the biodiversity interest; and that is a similar issue, is it
not? But there is probably a way of capturing both, I would suspect,
in many cases.
(Ms Collins) Yes. Through a Section106 agreement in
another development, you might be able to build a couple of new
tennis courts and enhance the biodiversity value that has developed
on the neglected courts; there must be loads of creative ways
at a local level of meeting both needs.
Chairman: On that note, thank you very much.