Have your say on how to enhance Wirral’s biodiversity

With harnessing and promoting biodiversity having to be built into any new development plans in England from November 2023, Wirral Council is asking for the help of residents in shaping a new strategy.

A period of consultation has just started in Wirral on biological diversity ahead of the council producing a Biodiversity Net Gain Strategy by November.

This is when a new law is enacted which states that all planning applications – with very few exceptions – have to show how they will deliver a minimum 10% Biodiversity Net Gain in their proposed development.

This means that their plans will need to demonstrate how any impact on biodiversity will be addressed. This could be by retaining and enhancing existing biodiversity or creating new habitats of similar or better quality.

Having varied and good biodiversity is important in our communities because it provides many functions, such as cleaning air and water and pollinating food. It can also help store carbon from emissions and provide natural flood defences.

Wirral can already claim to have rich biodiversity across the borough – from coastal areas, lowland heaths and woodland to our environmental sites of national, European and international significance – Wirral has 11 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) within its boundaries.

Cllr Liz Grey, Chair of the Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee, said, “The council’s declaration of an environment and climate emergency in July 2019 recognised the importance of biodiversity through our aim to double tree canopy cover, transform open spaces and build a resilient borough. 

“Policies and procedures we have introduced to help create more support for pollinators and grow and plant significantly more trees – the right trees in the right places – are already bearing fruit. But we want – and need – to do more to protect what we have and continue to improve our biodiversity.

“We are, after all, only part of the living world around us and it is important to reflect on how we interact with the rest of the natural world.”

Part of this involves Biodiversity Net Gain being built into the Wirral Local Plan 2021-2037 and being applied to all developments from November 2023.

Wirral is now looking to produce a Biodiversity and Net Gain Strategy to address how we can respond and act on these new duties to protect biodiversity, but also reflect what residents think about biodiversity and its importance.

By taking the survey – https://haveyoursay.wirral.gov.uk/biodiversity-strategy  – residents can tell the council what they understand about biodiversity, how they think it affects Wirral and their own community, what is most important to the borough in terms of biodiversity – and how they might be able to get more involved in protecting and enhancing Wirral’s biodiversity.

All the feedback provided, will help shape the resulting Biodiversity and Net Gain Strategy.

Image: Palle Knudsen

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