Introduction of invited representatives who will each have a 10 / 15 minute slot to discuss their area of work:
(a) Lorrie Marchington – general overview of the High Peak Green Network
(b) Rachel Purchase – general introduction to the bio-diversity group
(c) Peter Phillipson – Health and Well-Being in relation to bio-diversity
(d) Dave Savage – overview of the work of the DWT
A number of representatives of local groups had been invited to make presentations to the working group around the theme of bio-diversity and each group was requested to identify an action that the council could support or should be looking at.
(1) High Peak Green Network (HPGN) – Lorrie Marchington
HPGN had been set up at the end of 2019 to enable all green group to support the council in their declaration of a climate change emergency. A number of groups were involved including Transition New Mills, Transition Buxton, Sustainable Hayfield. Approaches had also been received from residents in Glossop, Tideswell and Staffordshire Moorlands. The group is non-political and the initial aim is to achieve co-operation between bio-diversity groups. The New Mills Community Conversation had been very successful and the New Mills group were helping other groups to develop community conversations. Information around different initiatives was shared on the facebook page and across all groups.
(2) Bio-diversity group – Rachel Purchase
Part of HPGN and representatives from Buxton, New Mills, Hope Valley and Whaley Bridge as well as other parts of Derbyshire. The definition of bio-diversity was set out together with the emerging bio-diversity crisis due to the loss of nature in the UK and decline in habitats and species since the 1970s which is due to a number of pressures which show links between bio diversity and climate change. Examples of how this as being tackled were set out together with increased public concern and the prioritisation of bio diversity and changing government policy. Ways in which councils can help were set out including the development of bio-diversity action plans which inform all areas of the council’s work and the improvement of existing habitats. The importance of using the local plan and planning guidance to protect existing habitats was stressed together with the strengthening and standardising planning requirements. It was commented that the council should have regard to conservation and promote bio-diversity wherever possible, considering where to build and are there alternative locations. Reference was made to the bio-diversity considerations currently within planning applications, and it was commented that policies should include the inclusion of bird boxes, hedgehog pathways etc. It was suggested that the Head of Planning and Development be invited to provide further information on the bio-diversity considerations within the planning process.
(3) Buxton Civic Association – The Importance of Biodiversity Conservation to people – Peter Phillipson
A definition of bio diversity conservation was set out and research had demonstrated the positive effect that contact with nature has on our health and wellbeing. Within Buxton, there are 10 woods which are crucial for providing essential contact with nature, which saw a massive increase in activity thoughout lockdown. HPBC was requested to undertake a number of measures including to protect existing wildlife habitats in and around settlements, safeguard and sympathetically manage neighbourhood open spaces and to ensure all new housing has generous of open space for contact with nature, greater emphasiss the local plan on conserving existing habitats and creating new habitats and green spaces in our urban areas, and to support community and wildlife and biodiversity groups in giving opportunities for low income and ethnical minority families to have more contact with nature, and that bio-diversity should have a much greater priority in High Peak.
(4) Derbyshire Wildlife Trust – Dave Savage
Reference was made to the Lawton report published in 2010 and the state of nature report in 2016 which indicated the lack of change. DWT were trying to engage people to organise and improve biodiversity through initiatives including 30by30 which aimed to preserve 30% of the landscape by 2030 as a minimum. DWT hold land in the area, much of which are small and don’t adhere to the Lawton principles, so radical initiatives were being introduced such as at the sites at Thornhill and Lightwood to introduce more natural processes to try and build up a jigsaw of wildlife sites. The Wildpeak programme aims to make bigger landscapes wilder and includes the reintroduction of species. Birds of Prey persecution is a problem in High Peak, together with Moorland fires and work was on-going around the badger vaccination programme. Each Councillor was asked to think about how 30% of their wards could be made better by 2030, and Dave offered to meet individual councillors to discuss how ideas could be progressed.
Members expressed that view that a bio-diversity action plan was needed to be developed, possibility via a smaller group of members, to be discussed further at a future members.
The Executive Councillor thanked all representatives for their presentations and contributions to the meeting.