Cross-party task force puts biodiversity at the heart of Babergh and Mid Suffolk
Councillors are set to consider a raft of environmental measures developed by a cross-party task force – tackling climate change and furthering the councils’ ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030.
Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils’ cabinets are due to meet next month (9 November) to consider the proposals. They have been developed following the extensive work of a Biodiversity Task Force, made up of councillors from all political parties; a subgroup of the councils’ Climate Change Task Force, with advice from experts.
If agreed, the proposals will form the councils’ first Biodiversity Action Plan, setting out how they aim to protect and strengthen biodiversity in the districts.
The action plan will link with the councils’ Carbon Reduction Management Plan, and will play a crucial role in fulfilling their ambitions of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
Headline proposals, which follow the climate emergency motions passed by both councils in 2019, include:
- developing a wildlife network map. This would be to identify and create wildlife corridors, as well as tree and hedge planting areas to enhance connectivity, and improve management of local wildlife sites in the districts
- working with town and parish councils and local communities to identify areas where trees and hedges can be planted
- increasing hedge planting through the DEFRA hedge planting grant scheme, and helping to fund planting which isn’t eligible where possible
- planting wildflower meadows to replace strict grass cutting regimes where suitable, to encourage bees and insects
- developing a supplementary planning document linked to the Joint Local Plan, to strengthen protections for biodiversity, and set out the districts’ expectations in terms of design, landscaping and open space for new developments
- exploring the possibility of a green burial site
Residents are also being encouraged to take action, however small, to increase biodiversity in their communities. This includes things such as installing bird and bat boxes, planting flowers to attract bees, creating hedgehog corridors, and being biodiversity-conscious when gardening.
The councils’ Tree for Life scheme also continues to offer local parents a tree to celebrate the arrival of a child, or remember babies sadly lost. The scheme will play an important role in the wider-districts’ biodiversity, using native, locally grown and sourced trees.
Cllr Elisabeth Malvisi, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for environment, said:
“We recognise the increasing pace with which our natural habitat is being lost and that it too, has now become a biodiversity emergency.
“If approved, these proposals will support us in our ambition to strengthen our biodiversity at a local level, while working towards making Suffolk the greenest county.
“We know our natural environment, and the outdoors, is of great importance to the health and wellbeing of us all, especially during this time. These plans are one of many ways in which we’re making sure our district remains a place we’re proud to call home for generations to come.”
Cllr Jessica Fleming, Mid Suffolk District Council’s cabinet member for environment, said:
“These proposals layout the next steps for us, and Babergh, towards our ambition to achieve biodiversity net gain, and strengthen and enhance our wildlife sites and open spaces.
“They are the result of lots of hard work and cross-party collaboration; and will build on the actions set out in our Carbon Reduction Management Plan to help us achieve our ambition of carbon neutrality by 2030.
“While we have an important role to play, so do our residents. I’d encourage everyone who can to take even small steps to improve biodiversity, whether it’s by planting flowers, trying home composting or much more – it all adds up to make a difference.”
The councils will continue to work closely with existing partners, including Suffolk County Council, and other non-governmental organisations, to protect natural habitats, and work towards the Suffolk-wide ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030.
Babergh’s recent decision to bring their public realm service in-house will also enable them, jointly with Mid Suffolk, to manage land more holistically to increase biodiversity.