Importance of Biodiversity in the Urban Areas of Sussex
activity has had a major impact upon the range and the number of
plant and animal species in the United Kingdom. This is particularly
acute in urban areas where the pressure for development and land
uptake is greatest. In the last 50 years urbanisation has resulted
in significant losses of habitat and species, together with increased
industrial development, expanding transport networks and pollution
of air, water and soil.
Government guidance there are three key issues which have to be
addressed in urban biodiversity:
and enhance, as far as possible, the variety of flora and fauna
found in urban areas, particularly if those species or habitats
are of national importance;
* Ensure there is a full policy framework within relevant sectors
to ensure that the biodiversity of urban areas is fully integrated
within statutory policy documents;
* Ensure that the principles of sustainable development are implicit
within all urban development plans.
and cities in Sussex provide the environment where people are most
likely to encounter biodiversity. Local parks, woods and green spaces
bring experiences of the natural world which can be familiar and
commonplace but nonetheless an integral part of daily life. Private
gardens themselves, cumulatively, represent one of the largest amounts
of green space in urban areas and can be very important for local
and private gardens can be important for wildlife and are the main
day to day contact points with wildlife for most of the population.
Given the right conditions, wildlife can thrive in towns. This can
help to raise awareness for the natural world and a concern for
UK Biodiversity Action Plan, 1994
in gardening for wildlife is growing rapidly. The aggregate area
of domestic gardens nationally is believed to be approximately two
million ha, an area far greater than all the nature reserves combined.
Gardens are providing a valuable habitat for many native plant and
animal species in urban areas. There is substantial scope through
providing information to gardeners for increasing the capacity of
gardens to support a greater variety of native species.
is vital that everyone who lives in an urban area is able to appreciate
biodiversity and incorporate this appreciation into changed behaviour,
in order that biodiversity reaches the very centre of human populations.
Biodiversity and Development
Town and Country Planning System, together with current legislation
and Government Strategies have a crucial role to play in influencing
and conserving biodiversity in urban areas. The continuing expansion
of urban development remains a key and significant threat to biodiversity
in town and cities.
Planning Policy Guidance
Government Guidance on the control of development is enshrined within
the Town and Country Planning Act and the subsequent Planning Policy
Guidance Notes. Nature conservation issues are covered by Planning
Policy Guidance Note 9 or PPG9, which is currently being reviewed
by Government. Revisions will improve integration of biodiversity
issues into the planning process and promote a wider ethos of sustainable
parts of PPG9 must be taken into account by Local Planning Authorities
when reviewing development plans and may be material to decisions
on individual planning applications and appeals.
Regional Planning Guidance for the South East, covered by RPG9,
was published by the Government Office for the South East in March
2001. This sets out the regional objectives and policies underpinning
strategic development in the South East region and includes all
vision stated in RPG9 is of 'encouraging economic success throughout
the Region, ensuring a higher quality of environment with management
of natural resources, opportunity and equity for the Region's population,
and a more sustainable pattern of development'.
Sussex Urban BAP echoes that vision and is aimed at assisting in
the implementation of those principles.
must be taken into account by Local Planning Authorities in preparing
development plans and may be material to decisions on individual
planning applications and appeals.
and Rights of Way Act 2000, CRoW
Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 is the most significant piece
of wildlife legislation to be passed since the 1981 Wildlife and
Countryside Act. Together, the two statutes provide for the protection
of wildlife and outline the key responsibilities for wildlife protection
III of the CRoW Act amends the law relating to nature conservation
and the protection of wildlife, and includes provision on the conservation
of biodiversity and the protection of Sites of Special Scientific
Interest. There are specific duties on public bodies, such as Local
Authorities, to further the conservation and enhancement of the
special features for which SSSIs are notified.
is the main planning tool for integrating biodiversity into the
development control process. In urban areas the integration of biodiversity
goes well beyond the designated site system as there may be areas
of wildlife interest that are not designated wildlife sites.
key to conserving biodiversity through the planning process is to
encourage the adoption of alternative approaches to developments
that mitigate against biodiversity damage and create new biodiversity
opportunities and enhancement.
are currently no minimum standards covering the quality of action
to be taken for nature conservation purposes in the development
context. This applies to the scope of information required or requested
prior to the submission of a planning application. Also to the scope
and extent of ecological information after or accompanying the submission
of a planning application. Finally to the details relating to mitigation,
protection and monitoring during and after the development period.
This is clearly compounded by the lack of expertise in most Local
Authorities to either request such information or to assess it if
it is received.
Association of Local Government Ecologists and English Nature has
produced a publication aimed at addressing this need for minimum
standards. 'Developing Naturally' by Mike Oxford, provides clear
guidance on the information required before, during and after the
application process (Appendix 2). The publication provides model
planning conditions (Oxford M.J. 2000, pp.22-30) and legal agreements
for the protection and enhancement of biodiversity in development
control (Oxford M.J. 2000, pp.31-33). Every Local Planning Department
should have access to these standards.
provision for the protection of biodiversity locally is enshrined
within either unitary development or local plans. This provides
Local Authorities with the policy framework covering future strategic
initiatives and development control.
is incumbent on all planning authorities to provide a rigorous policy
framework for the protection of local biodiversity and provide clear
guidance on the information required to assess planning applications
and state exactly where development will not be permitted.
are some examples of local authorities introducing a policy framework
to protect biodiversity as part of the current and emerging Structure
Plans and Local Plans in Sussex.
4. Importance of Biodiversity for People, Local Community and
Cultural Significance [top]
need nature. With all the stresses and strains of urban living we
feel better for it'
From 'A Space for Nature' (English Nature, 1996).
awareness of environmental issues and biodiversity is essential
if biodiversity in urban areas is to be sustained in the long term.
Recent research shows that concern for the environment in the public
mind ranks alongside unemployment, crime, health and education as
one of the significant problems facing the nation today.
communication will be a key issue in promoting biodiversity, especially
to the young and the disadvantaged. Without communication aimed
at engaging people in local biodiversity and the complimentary issues
of social inclusion, health and education, the future of biodiversity
in urban areas will not be sustained.
Sussex about 10% of the population are members of an environmental
organisation. Creating the opportunities for local people to have
contact with nature at first hand is vital in building interest,
support and understanding of biodiversity. It is the interest of
people in preserving their local wildlife that can bring about changes
in policy and local development priorities.
tourism and the accumulated income to communities, local economies
and the benefits which such incomes can bring to enhanced management
for biodiversity is a resource that is surprisingly underdeveloped
in urban Sussex.
Social Benefits, Recreation and Health
provide a connection with wildlife and the natural environment that
is increasingly lost in modern society.
* Everyday contact with nature is important for well being and quality
of life, can help reduce stress and improve both physical and emotional
* BAPs can play a key role in implementing Community Strategies
and successful regeneration programmes that can help encourage contact
and understanding of nature.
* Greenspaces help bring communities together and stimulate local
action to improve their local area and in so doing foster a sense
of pride in the local area.
* Recreational activities relying on biodiversity are of increasing
economic value to local communities. The South Downs is estimated
to receive 32 million visits every year.
* There are links developing between environment and health initiatives
for example the Green Gym and Healthy Walks. A pilot project combining
the two schemes is planned for Hastings in 2001, and a Green Gym
was set up in Portslade in 1999.
* Clean rivers and beaches are good for public health as well as
biodiversity. The recovery from operations has been shown to be
quicker for hospital patients who have access to a natural view
of greenery rather than buildings.
provides a range of associated benefits to urban areas. Trees filter
noise and air pollution, and reedbeds can filter out water pollution
in towns. Trees have in fact been shown to remove over 10 tonnes
of damaging particulates daily whilst in tests in Nottingham it
is calculated that trees reduce the concentration of sulphur and
nitrogen dioxides by up to 5%.
* There is increasing evidence of the wide range of benefits that
trees and woodlands provide for people. In an urban environment,
trees can save up to 10% of energy consumption through their moderation
of the local climate. They also stabilise the soil, prevent erosion,
reduce the effects of air pollution & storm-water run-off and
aid land reclamation.
Culture and Inspiration
are strong traditional links between people and the environment
reflected in art, literature, music, religion, folklore, features
on buildings and the names of pubs, streets and towns.
* The shape of the landscape and natural features has strongly influenced
past management of natural resources has shaped the present day
countryside and has influenced many of the locations of villages
5. Benefits to the Local Economy [top]
importance of the environment is recognised in 'Building a World
Class Region' an economic strategy produced by the South East England
Development Agency (SEEDA).
and quality of greenspace can improve the townscape and influence
the choice of location by businesses.
* Natural features can provide economic benefits for example; hedgerows
can provide a screen as a windbreak, insulation, shade and a barrier
to deter crime. Natural watercourses facilitate the movement of
water between places and provide the capacity to store excess water.
* Farmers markets encourage local production and help to meet the
increasing demand for organic produce reducing the distance that
food is transported from producer to consumer.
* Biodiversity can contribute to the economy in local areas providing
revenue and jobs thereby raising the quality of life.
other areas of Britain a biodiversity rich environment has proved
economically beneficial for example, in Scotland during 1996 marine
wildlife tourism brought in £57 million to the local economy.
In the South West of England 100,000 people are employed in environmental-related
activity, contributing £1.6 billion to the region's economy
(5-10% of the South West region's GDP). The Norfolk coast attracts
over 13 million people per year, spending £122 million helping
to sustain local economies and support local conservation.
6. Trends and Threats [top]
the laws, procedures and enhanced environmental awareness there
is still a decline in biodiversity and a reduction in links between
people and wildlife. Key points that need to be addressed are:
of people from their natural environment leading to a lack of understanding
and awareness of the value of biodiversity, particularly in urban
* Lack of integration between economic decision making and environmental
* Little or no 'value' is put on biodiversity leading to environmental
considerations becoming the poor relation in urban economic priorities;
* Brownfield vs. Greenfield debate has the potential to lead to
less open space in urban areas or 'town cramming'. Current Government
guidance favours building on Brownfield sites as opposed to Greenfield
sites. However, in the context of urban ecology it is stressed that
some previously developed Brownfield sites may be recognised as
having a greater importance for biodiversity than Greenfield sites;
* Lack of in-house ecological expertise in Local Authorities to
deal with biodiversity and development control;
* Ensuring that Community Strategies integrate Local Biodiversity
* Raising awareness of the duties towards biodiversity by Local
* Encouraging Planning Applications to include appropriate ecological
* Land of biodiversity importance continuing to be allocated for
development in local plans;
* A general lack of progress in raising awareness of biodiversity
issues in urban areas to both local residents and through public
bodies and elected members.
7. Potential [top]
continuing understanding that all our social, economic and environmental
issues are inextricably linked is fundamental to the quality of
life of urban dwellers and to the quality and extent of biodiversity
in our towns and cities.
is a considerable policy framework for biodiversity and sustainable
development for the entire country, including urban areas. It is
important to reiterate and focus on these national guidelines and
apply them meaningfully and ambitiously at the local level. These
policies include the UK Action Plan itself, the subsequent Steering
Group Reports, Planning Policy Guidance on Nature Conservation at
a national and regional level and the UK Sustainable Development
urban environment has a wealth of wildlife that requires not only
protection but also management and enhancement. The potential for
community management of local green spaces is inherent in the UK
Biodiversity Action Plan the Sustainable Development Strategy and
the Local Government Act 2000 in the form of Community Strategies.
major players in urban areas are undoubtedly Local Authorities.
It is through the commitments and priorities that they set for an
inclusive approach to biodiversity within their wider strategic
goals that will undoubtedly have a major influence on the future
of the quality of our towns and cities.
actions and targets set out in the Sussex Urban BAP will help focus
these commitments for all key partners in urban regeneration. This
would contribute to the implementation of urban environments that
are both sustainable in their make up and pleasant places for people
within a matrix of biodiversity.
potential for improving the biodiversity of urban areas is tremendous.
The area concerned, although fragmented, is very large. Accurate
information about many aspects may not be available and perhaps
may not ever be, yet this need not be a barrier to action. 'We do
not need to count the granules to know we are running out of sugar!'
(Surrey Urban HAP, 2000).
bodies such as Local Authorities exert a great degree of influence
over land management. Identifying changes in land use management
through the application of less-intensive management regimes to
urban land would bring good returns in terms of an increase in biodiversity.
Many of these changes could be achieved at either low or even no
cost, some may even result in savings to the public purse.
the pressure for development in Sussex is great, there are opportunities
for biodiversity gain. Current examples include the redevelopment
of Shoreham cement works, Shoreham Harbour and at Brighton Railway
Station. In addition, there are discussions about the future use
of sites for example at the Keymer Tileworks after the end of the
clay extraction for tiles in 20 - 30 years. Discussions need to
start early to ensure that environmental gain is integrated into
proposals at the earliest time possible. In this way, it is possible
to achieve win/win solutions in both economic and environmental
are opportunities to incorporate features for wildlife into development
plans. The potential for wildlife gain can be for example, on buildings
by adding swift nest boxes, on the site through appropriate planting
plans, or enhancing surrounding area for example by extending features
such as green corridors. One of the ways of implementing these ideas
is through the establishment of a partnership between developers,
Local Authorities and conservation groups to ensure that provision
for environmental and wildlife enhancements are included in development
of the main purposes of this plan is to convince more people that
a shift in direction is possible, practical and desirable. The audience
must include people and organisations without an environmental background
as well as committed conservationists. This may require changes
in public perception, but the door to such changes is already ajar
and it may not need much further effort to push it wide open. Everyone
has a part to play to make a positive and direct contribution whether
at home, workplace, school or college.
8. Current Action [top]
table of current action summarises the work underway in Sussex and
highlights examples of good practice. See Appendix 1.
9. Funding Mechanisms [top]
is a need to promote the 'joined-up' thinking that builds in consideration
of the environment with economic and social gains. For example,
ensuring environmental gains are part of Single Regeneration Budget
applications and initiatives such as the Education Action Zone.
need to promote and sustain funding that can support local environmental
action that help to build capacity within a local community through
advice and training to groups in urban areas. For example, support
or develop a network of officers and volunteers able to work alongside
community groups to facilitate local action, using the South Coast
Environmental Network or SCENE model underway in Brighton and Hove.
is a role for business in supporting environmental projects either
through sponsorship or through employee volunteering schemes such
as the one at BAA Gatwick Airport or the Body Shop in Littlehampton.
Landfill tax credit scheme will fund environmental projects for
example the SEAGULL project at Lidsey in West Sussex.
are a number of grants from lottery sources. The New Opportunities
Fund (NOF) under the Green Spaces and Sustainable Communities theme
has provided £125 million for environmental schemes in England
from 2001 until 2004. The NOF Award Partners that will distribute
the grants include Barnardos, BTCV, Countryside Agency, English
Nature, Royal Society for Nature Conservation, Sport England, and
Sustrans. The NOF grants are available to support a variety of local
greenspace and biodiversity projects.
Heritage Lottery Fund provides support for the purchase and management
of land and is increasingly interested in supporting educational
and community based projects. The Awards for All provides grants
to community based groups for local projects.
addition, national bodies such as the Countryside Agency provide
grants to local communities through the Local Heritage Initiative.
10. Objectives [top]
three key objectives of the Sussex Urban BAP are:
safeguard and enhance the biodiversity found in the urban areas
ii To increase people's contact and understanding of biodiversity
and stimulate local action.
iii To promote sustainable development that contributes positively
to biodiversity and hence the quality of life of an urban society.
Sussex Urban BAP attempts to address the first two objectives in
order to achieve the third objective of sustainable development
and ensure a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations
development and biodiversity are recognised as the main indicators
in assessing the quality of the environment. There needs to be concerted
'joined up thinking' when implementing the Sussex Urban BAP as part
of the Habitat and Species Action Planning process. It must fit
in with other local plans in Sussex for example Community Plans,
Regeneration Strategies, Local Development Plans Sustainable Development
Strategies and Local Agenda 21 initiatives.
11. Targets [top]
An increase in the extent and quality of habitats and greenspaces
in the urban areas of Sussex. (on-going)
All relevant organisations, such as Local Authorities, Businesses
and the Voluntary Sector, to have policies that incorporate and
implement national, European and international protocols and legislation
for biodiversity in the urban areas of Sussex by 2010.
All householders to enhance the biodiversity of their own gardens.
this will be difficult to measure we want to encourage as many people
as possible who own or have access to a garden to enhance biodiversity
in their neighbourhood.
Incorporate biodiversity gains into all developments (eg new housing,
work places, transport infrastructure) in urban areas. (on-going)
Identify all habitats and species in urban areas that require action
according to National and Local Biodiversity Action Plans by 2005
and review every 5 years.
Identify sites and species of local importance in urban areas, ensure
protection and implement appropriate management by 2005 and review
Identify, maintain and develop the wildlife corridors linking habitats
and greenspaces in urban areas by 2005 and review regularly.
All people to have access to:
* natural greenspace less than 300 metres (in a straight line) from
* sites with semi-natural working countryside within 2 kilometres,
* near-natural wild area within 20 kilometres,
by 2025 and review provision every 10 years.
Double the number of people directly involved in working to maintain
and enhance biodiversity as individuals or through community groups
Create new urban greenspace and increase amount of land managed
primarily for biodiversity in urban areas by 10% by 2010.
All people to have access to advice, information and training on
biodiversity in urban areas by 2005 and to review the provision
on a regular basis every 5 years.
All urban areas to have access to sufficient biodiversity information
to measure progress towards Sussex Urban BAP targets and actions
Ensure adequate funding to implement actions in the Sussex Urban
Ensure that biodiversity and the environment is fully integrated
with social and economic regeneration programmes by 2010.
Implement Habitat and Species Action Plans in urban areas by 2010.
12. Actions [top]
Monitoring and Review [top]
is proposed to set up an Urban Biodiversity Forum for Sussex to
monitor the implementation of the Sussex Urban BAP drawing on the
organisation that can help deliver the targets and actions.
Sussex Biodiversity Partnership will review the progress towards
delivering People and Wildlife - Sussex Urban BAP.
14. Sources and References [top]
E., 1998, The Urban Handbook - a practical guide to community environmental
and Rights of Way Act 2000.
of Environment, 1994, Biodiversity-The UK Action Plan.
of Environment, 1994, Planning Policy Guidance: Nature Conservation
of Environment, 1999, A Better Quality of Life.
of Environment, 1999, Quality of Life Counts.
of Environment, 2001, Sustaining the Variety of Life.
M., 1986, Promoting Nature in Cities and Towns Ecological Parks
Nature 1996, A Space for Nature - English Nature booklet.
C. W. D, Brownfield: red data. The values artificial habitats have
invertebrates.- English Nature Research Report No. 273.
R., 2000, The Value of Gardening for Wildlife. British Wildlife,
December 2000 Vol.12 No. 2 pp 77- 84.
Office for the South East, 2001, Regional Planning Guidance for
the South East (RPG 9).
J., 1990, Nature Areas for City People Ecology Handbook No. 14 -
London Ecology Unit .
J. & Newton J., - Building Green - a guide to using plants on
roofs, walls and pavements. - London Ecology Unit.
Urban Forestry Unit, 1998, Trees or Turf? Beast Value in managing
Urban Forestry Unit, 1999, Report from the Trees and Healthy Living
J. on behalf of Kent Biodiversity Partnership 2000, Building Biodiversity
M.J., 2000, Developing Naturally- A Handbook for Incorporating the
Natural Environment into Planning and Development. Association of
Local Government Ecologists and English Nature.
V., 1999, The Green Gym - An Evaluation of a Pilot Project in Sonning
& Kendle, 1994, Human well-being, natural landscapes and wildlife
in urban areas. A review. - English Nature Research Report No. 22.
East England Development Agency (SEEDA), Building a World Class
Region an Economic Strategy.
- South East Regional Urban Nature Conservation Forum, 1999, Towards
an Urban Renaissance Conference.
Biodiversity Partnership, 2000, Wildlife on your Doorstep - An Urban
Biodiversity Action Plan.
Biodiversity Partnership, 1997 updated 2000, From Rio to Sussex,
action for biodiversity - The Biodiversity Action Plan for Sussex.
Wildlife Trust, 1996, Vision for the Wildlife of Sussex.
Wildlife Trust, 1998, Greenspace Seminar Proceedings.
Royal Town Planning Institute, 1999, Planning for Biodiversity.
Biodiversity Steering Group, 1995, Biodiversity: The UK Steering
Group Report, Vols. 1&2.
Biodiversity Steering Group, 1999, Tranche 2 Action Plans, Vols.
Sussex County Council 2001, A Guide to Nature Conservation Planning
in West Sussex - Planning for Biodiversity.
15. Consultation [top]
of the Sussex Urban BAP Working Group:
Belden Brighton and Hove Urban Wildlife Group
Steve Berry English Nature
Victoria Bull Chichester District Council
Chris Burton Horley Crawley Countryside Management Project
Gary Clarke Crawley Borough Council
Murray Davidson Hastings Borough Council
Daphne Fisher Arun District Council
Ann Griffiths West Sussex County Council
Alex Tait East Sussex County Council
Matthew Thomas Brighton and Hove Council
Tony Whitbread Sussex Wildlife Trust
Susan Wilson Sussex Wildlife Trust (Chair)
In addition comments were received from:
Baker Sussex Wildlife Trust
Jon Bramley Sussex Otters and Rivers Officer
Dee Christensen BTCV (West Sussex)
Peter Currell Sussex Downs Conservation Board
Kim Gregory Horsham
Libby Hodd BTCV (Brighton & Hove)
Yvonne McDermott Horsham District Council
Andy Phillips Sussex Biodiversity Partnership Officer
Graham Roberts Sussex Ornithological Society
Roy Ticehurst Friends of Bedelands Farm
Yvonne Trchalik Green Gym, BTCV
Andy Deacon Sussex Air Quality Steering Group
to all Local Authorities in East and West Sussex in April 2000
* Members of the West Sussex Sustainability Forum
16. Appendices [top]
1 Current Action for Urban Biodiversity in Sussex for 2001-2002