Environment, Food and Rural Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by London Wildlife Trust

1. London Wildlife Trust

1.1London Wildlife Trust is the only charity dedicated solely to protecting the capital’s wildlife and natural spaces, engaging London’s diverse communities through access to our nature reserves, campaigning, volunteering and education. See: www.wildlondon.org.uk

1.2 The Trust supports The Wildlife Trust’s response to the Natural Environment White Paper (submitted separately), but wish to add some other points.

2. Key Elements Supported

2.1We support in principle the commitments to:

resource the Big Garden Wildlife scheme, with a new Wildlife Garden of the Year competition;

support the Green Flag Award scheme;

inaugurate a network of 50 Natural Value Ambassadors;

establish a Green Infrastructure Partnership;

create a new fund for biodiversity recording in the voluntary sector.

create new local green area designation;

remove barriers to learning outdoors;

launch a new phase of Muck In4Life; and

continue support for the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

2.2The creation of Local Natural Partnerships should not undermine existing activity that already meets the White Paper’s objectives (for example successful Biodiversity Partnerships delivering cross-sectoral approaches to urban biodiversity (for example developing green infrastructure)).

3. Areas Where Further Clarity is Required

3.1We support the recognition for the need to reconnect society with our natural world. The growing disconnection can be particularly acute in urban areas,1 but resources to address this are still the exception rather than the rule. The NEWP makes cautious steps in this direction, but much of the intentions focus on food and healthy eating. Stronger commitments are required (in terms of resources and priorities) to address “nature deficit disorder” (not just in young people), and clarity over the immediate steps needed to help address it in the longer-term.

3.2We remain to be convinced that the forthcoming planning reforms will not dilute a system already weak in its ability to protect the nature of our city. We would like to see stronger demonstrable support from DCLG that the commitments in NEWP will be included in the National Planning Policy Framework, and that the existing protection awarded to species, habitats and protected sites is maintained, and if possible further strengthened where warranted.

3.3Whilst biodiversity offsetting has potential, we are concerned that the ecological assets of London (and other urban areas) will be more vulnerable to such an approach (on the basis that mitigation is carried out far from a development site). Any pilots put in place should recognise the equity of ecological importance (and potential) between town and country, and address the issues of connecting people to nature (as set out above).

3.4A new local Green Area Designation; how will this complement the many existing designations and the variable protection they’re already given within the planning system?

4. Government Should Rectify the Following Omissions.

4.1There is no explicit reference to Local Wildlife Sites and other non-statutory sites that already make a signification contribution to ecological networks in urban areas; important sites in their own right and stepping stones to the wider countryside.2

20 June 2011

1 Evans, S. M., Dixon, S., and Heslop, J., (2005), Environmental knowledge: how good is it and where does it come from?, School of Marine Science and Technology, University of Newcastle upon Tyne http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press.office/press.release/item/?ref=1113470307

2 There are over 1440 wildlife sites in London, that provide the critical framework for the green infrastructure of the city, and the base line for developing landscape scale approaches to restoration.

Prepared 16th July 2012