Fears for the future of more than 2,000 Suffolk and Norfolk wildlife sites
Conservationists fear changes to the Government’s planning policy may end protection for thousands of local wildlife sites.
The Government is proposing to take all reference to local (or county) wildlife sites out of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), removing protection.
This is happening even though references to historic sites with equivalent protection are being retained. For many of the 42,000 sites, LWS designation is the only protection they have.
Suffolk and Norfolk Wildlife Trusts have joined other trusts to object to the plan.
Suffolk has more than 900 such sites amounting to about five per cent of the county’s land mass while Norfolk has 1,300, or about three per cent of its area.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) emphasised the diversity of the sites which range in size from Ickworth Park to Flempton churchyard, which is listed for its wild flowers.
Icklingham playing field is designated for its dry Breck grassland while sites cared for by the trust include Mickle Mere wetland, near Ixworth, and Old Broom, near Risby, which has 250-year-old oak trees.
James Meyer, SWT senior conservation planner, said: “Local authorities in Suffolk understand the importance of county wildlife sites and have effectively used planning policy to protect them for years.
“If reference to these sites is no longer included in national planning policy then, as local plans are reviewed, the requirement to translate this protection to a local level will be lost and sites will be irrevocably damaged.”
Brendan Joyce, Norfolk Wildlife Trust chief executive, said: “We believe this could be a disaster for our wildlife.
“County wildlife sites lie at and form a key component of ecological networks, which elsewhere in the NPPF the Government seeks to protect.
“It is vital Government does not leave these sites unprotected. Norfolk Wildlife Trust, along with other wildlife trusts will be responding to this government consultation urging them to re-instate Local Wildlife Sites within the NPPF and are urging others to do the same.”
The national Wildlife Trusts’ advice on responding, with links to the Government consultation, is at www.wildlifetrusts.org/actswiftly