Agenda and draft minutes

Environment & Economy Select Committee - Tuesday, 27 February 2024 6.00pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Daneshill House, Danestrete

Contact: Chris Liasi Email: committees@stevenage.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

Apologies of absence were received by Councillors Baroness Taylor of Stevenage OBE CC and Chris Howells

 

There were no declarations of interest.

 

2.

PRE-SCRUTINY POLICY DEVELOPMENT OF THE UPDATED BIODIVERSITY ACTION PLAN pdf icon PDF 10 MB

To receive a presentation from the Environmental Policy & Development Manager and the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust on the draft updated Biodiversity Action Plan for Stevenage, which the Committee will consider and provide some policy development comment on the updated action plan before this is brought forward for a decision at the Executive.

 

As part of the presentation Members will also receive an overview about how the Tree and Woodland Strategy and the Green Space Strategy will be developed along with likely timescales. This session will provide some orientation for Members at the start of the process regarding how Officers might engage with other community stakeholders around local sites. A more detailed discussion would then be carried out with Members later in the year.

 

Minutes:

The Environmental Policy and Development Manager provided a presentation to the committee around the topic of Biodiversity, including biodiversity in Stevenage; chalk streams and approach to environmental strategies for Tree and Woodland Management and the Green Space Strategy.

 

Biodiversity in Stevenage:

 

The Environmental Policy and Development Manager, Julia Hill and the Conservation Manager for Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, Tim Hill explained the timeline for biodiversity in the local area which included as context: the Hertfordshire Biodiversity Action plan was written by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust (HMWT) in 1998. Stevenage Biodiversity Action Plan was created in 2005; Revision of Hertfordshire Biodiversity Action Plan in 2006; Biodiversity Action Plan for Stevenage was reviewed in 2010 and again in 2017.

 

It was explained in the last 50 years 76 species became extinct in Hertfordshire; more than three species every two years, 35 were invertebrates, 26 were plants, 13 were vertebrates and two were lichens. 1,446 species are currently threatened with extinction in Hertfordshire. This includes over 1,000 invertebrates and 260 plants.

 

The Environmental Policy and Development Manager, Julia Hill, explained that SBC was still the only district Council in Hertfordshire with a Biodiversity Action Plan; it is understood that Three Rivers District Council now have a draft plan, but Stevenage has led the way in this area for years.

 

In 2011 the Council secured a joint funding bid with HMWT for a Wild Stevenage fund to support Biodiversity. This led to work to engage with local community and kick started the local Green Space Volunteers in Stevenage. More recently there has been progress by Stevenage being the first local authority in Hertfordshire to secure funding via Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) from planning permission granted for building developments in the area. In the last 13 years there has been a 1500% increase in meadow grassland with now up to 33 hectares in Stevenage. The change in grass cutting regimes has allowed wildflowers to grow up. The Council has created up to 2 hectares of new woodland at Memorial Wood and Fairlane Wood in Fairlands Valley Park. Shackledell Grassland is the only known site in Hertfordshire to find the Great Green Bush Cricket, the UK’s largest insect.  The Council has created 10 community orchards since 2011.

The Council doesn't have a specific identified budget to support the delivery of the Biodiversity Action Plan.  Delivery is largely through Green Space Volunteers supported by SDS officers, and supported by national funding bids, and local Member support through their Local Community Budgets (LCBs).

 

Draft Biodiversity Action Plan:

 

The HMWT Conservation Manager, Tim Hill  explained the objectives of the action plan is to be realistic and achievable but remaining ambitious within the capacity of Stevenage Borough Council and partners, to be compatible with and complement the Hertfordshire Climate Change and Sustainability Partnership (HCCSP) Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), to be accessible in language terms to the wider Stevenage community, to prioritise protecting those sites already important to wildlife and/or identifying sites that could lose potential for wildlife if  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.

3.

URGENT PART 1 BUSINESS

To consider any Part 1 business accepted by the Chair as urgent.

Minutes:

There were none.

4.

EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC AND PRESS

To consider the following motions –

 

1.  That under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as described in paragraphs1 – 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act as amended by Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006.

 

2.  That Members consider the reasons for the following reports being in Part II and determine whether or not maintaining the exemption from disclosure of the information contained therein outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

 

Minutes:

Not required.

5.

URGENT PART II BUSINESS

To consider any Part II business accepted by the Chair as urgent.

Minutes:

There were none.