UPDATE: The amended motion to protect Bristol’s green spaces has passed with the support of Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups. The Labour group chose to abstain.
At Full Council 7th September the Green Councillor Group proposed the following amendment to aim to strengthen the Conservative motion on protecting Green space and adding in protections for Sites of Nature Conservation interest (SNCIs). This amendment was originally an altered motion with the support of Conservative and Lib Dem groups, however this approach was rejected by Labour.
As well as seeking to protect SNCIs from development, the amendment also sought to add protection for wildlife corridors and for the Western Slopes and Brislington Meadows as Local Green Space (which provides similar planning protection as green belt).
Introducing the amendment, Green Councillor for Windmill Hill Ed Plowden said:
“Everyone in the biodiversity and wildlife profession agrees the single most important thing we can do, first and foremost is to protect and preserve the quality natural spaces we already have.”
“The pace and density of current development means that more than ever we need to protect our existing biodiverse green spaces in the City and in the Green Belt. They cannot be retrofitted.”
PROTECT THE GREEN BELT AND BRISTOL’S GREEN SPACES
Words in bold and underlined are the Green Party amendment.
“This Council welcomes the importance placed by Her Majesty’s Government on the protection of the Green Belt and endorses the main reasons given for preserving this strategic space.
These zones are essential to check urban sprawl; prevent the merging of neighbouring towns; safeguard the countryside from encroachment; preserve the setting and special characteristics of historic areas; and assist in urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of already developed land.
The need to conserve the existing Green Belt, as well as retaining vital green spaces, remains a major priority for most people in our city. As a result, Council notes the Mayor’s recent decision to not now build housing on Brislington Meadows and to ‘look again’ at housing plans which would destroy the Western Slopes wildlife corridor.
Sadly, there are other equally significant sites which remain under the threat of the bulldozer. One such place is Yew Tree Farm, Bristol’s last working farm. The family there has been recognised by the Avon Wildlife Trust and RSPB for the huge strides made in achieving sustainable, low-intensity, organic local food production, whilst maintaining abundant and attractive biodiversity.
Considering Council also welcomes the Mayor’s pledges around combatting food poverty and encouraging communities to grow more of their own food.
Council notes that much of the land we may think of as Green Belt is in fact designated as Sites of Nature Conservation interest (SNCIs) and wildlife corridors, and that whilst this land has some protection granted under local planning regulation, policy may override these protections.
Full Council resolves:
Council calls for 1. To call for a halt to the proposed redevelopment of or incursion into any remaining productive wildlife rich agricultural land.
Furthermore, 2. To ask the Mayor is asked to give a cast-iron commitment that he will look instead to increase the emphasis placed in the Authority’s Site Allocations and Development Management policies on re-using or re-purposing existing and emerging ‘brownfield’, previously developed or urban centres where not also needed as space for nature rather than continuing to erode our surrounding fields and countryside.
3. In the forthcoming update of the site allocations policies, to make every effort to avoid designating any SNCIs for development.
4. To create policy to prioritise the preservation of the integrity of any wildlife corridors contained within sites designated for development.
5. To work with adjacent local authorities and WECA to reinforce our policies on preserving Green Belt, and to work with these bodies to preserve our cherished countryside.
6. To assign or instruct officers to consider adopting the Western Slopes and Brislington Meadows as Local Green Space as provided for within NPPF guidance, providing similar planning protection as for the Green Belt.
7. Furthermore, to work with local communities across Bristol to similarly make every effort to designate much loved green space in other parts of the city. Noting that such protection for green space was proposed as part of the recent Bristol Local Plan Review.”