National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) July 2018. Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. 73pp. ISBN. 978-1-4098-5302-2
The revised NPPF came out at the end of July 2018 without a lot of fanfare. It was not like the March 2012 NPPF which replaced no less than 44 PPGs and PPSs (inc the important PPS9), Circulars and Letters. There is a new section on ‘Habitats and biodiversity’ to ‘protect and enhance biodiversity’ and to ‘safeguard components of local wildlife-rich habitats and wider ecological networks’ (para 174 a) ‘promote the conservation, restoration and enhancement of priority habitats’ (para 174 b). It still refers to Circular 06/2005 on further guidance on biodiversity. It recognises the importance of ‘international, national and locally designated sites’. Guidance to LPAs is as follows: refuse applications that cause significant harm that cannot be compensated for, or relocated (para 175 a), refuse any developments where there is any loss of irreplaceable habitats such as ancient woodlands and ancient or veteran trees unless a suitable compensation strategy exists, or under ‘wholly exceptional reasons’ (para 175 c). Para 175 d) usefully states that ‘opportunities to incorporate biodiversity improvements in and around developments should be encouraged, especially where this can secure measurable net gains for biodiversity.’ This new NPPF has a valuable Glossary, but says, confusingly that ‘All ancient trees are veteran trees. Not all veteran trees are old enough to be ancient, but are old relative to other trees of the same species.’ (page 64). On Green Belt land the NPPF states that LPA should give ‘substantial weight. .to any harm to the Green Belt..’ but by way of exceptions, that it will continue to permit ‘limited infilling in villages’ (para 145 e), and ‘limited affordable housing’ (para 145 e) f). This new NPPF continues to recommend planning for climate change (Section 14) and to have a ‘proactive approach’ to mitigating effects, including biodiversity. In its Section 15 Conserving and enhancing the nature of the environment, it has the following suggestions: ‘protecting and enhancing valued landscapes’ (para 170a), ‘recognising the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside… the natural capital and ecosystem services’ (para 170 b), ‘remediating and mitigating despoiled, degraded, derelict, contaminated and unstable land, where appropriate’ (para 170 f). This new NPPF pursues presumption in favour of development in a more vigorous way, for instance it should be pursued in a ‘positive’ way (Section 2, paras 10, 11) which is ‘at the heart of the Framework’, its goes into great length about how it should be interpreted with regard to local plans, neighbourhood plans, protected sites and delivery tests. This also includes AONB, which are further mentioned under para 172 with regard to ‘Great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing landscape’. Regarding sustainable development it is clear under para 177 that ‘The presumption in favour of sustainable development does not apply where development requiring appropriate assessment because of its potential impact on a habitats site is being planned or determined’ so that will stymie all development near EU sites (SPA, SAC, Ramsars, WHS). Overall this new NPPF offers more clarification for development especially on biodiversity and sustainability.
‘Call of Nature’: The Secret Life of Dung. Pelagic Publishing. 2017 292pp ISBN 978-1-78427-105-3
There can be no better person to produce a book on dung that Richard Jones who has spent his life peering into poo and getting his hands dirty. Whilst reviewing this book in the Cevennes mountains, France, I actually had the large dung beetle illustrated on the cover at my feet pushing a large round dollop of wild boar poo across my woodland path, a first for me and easily identified from the book. I suppose that not everyone will rush to read this book, but there are a surprising number of entomologists and coleopterists in particular who will be fascinating by the factual information teased out of the detritus of the forest and field floor by this inquisitive and talented entomologist author. The book is illustrated throughout with beautiful line drawings, and, probably a first, a unique visual key to the variety of poo seen when out and about in distant parts, the remit is worldwide (whales to wombats, though not exhaustive). The illustrator is Verity Ure-Jones. All the characters involved in recycling poo, such as flies (so many species), midges, gnats, beetles (so many species) including scarabs are described and illustrated, including many involved on the periphery of poo. Only Richard Jones could separate out all the species into an orderly collection. The illustrations of beetles associated with dung makes an invaluable key. All is in black and white, which is probably good, as the thought of all the poo in colour would be too much. There is an excellent index and glossary.
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‘Rainforest dispatches from Earth’s most vital frontlines.’ By Tony Juniper. Profile Books, London. 448pp. 978-1781256367
Rainforests are Tony Juniper’s speciality and one of his previous books that I especially liked was ‘Spix’s Macaw’ (2002). He has spent a life working for Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace and is currently with WWF. This book is a summation of his industriousness trying to reduce or slow-down the rate rainforest loss, many times with direct action. Not that he, or anyone else, has been entirely successful in this venture as rainforests are being visibly destroyed (for all to see by satellite), still at an alarming rate since at least the last 30 years; he illustrates the familiar clearance of rainforests to make way for palm oil plantations, or local people living amongst the burnt out stumps of emergent trees. Juniper’s ‘dispatches’ are in fact 22 chapters on different issues affecting tropical rainforests in Asia and Pacific, Africa, Americas;e has not forgotten temperate rainforest globally, including one fragment in South West Wales. There is not too much on Australian rainforests, and he has missed the area off his map on p. 277. His Chapter 16 is pretty damming in one sentence ‘Indonesia largely erased its rainforests over two decades, aided by the World Bank and the IMF – and multinationals.’ The value of the book is in the endnotes for each chapter that provide corroborative links. There are black and white photographs throughout the book (pity not in full colour) and two sections of stunning colour photographs demonstrating biodiversity by Thomas Marent. The book is recommended as an excellent source of information on rainforests, as indeed is my own ‘Rainforests’ book (Published by Wildlife Matters in 2009, full colour, 646pp) which is not mentioned!
‘Beetles’ No. 136 in the Collins New Naturalists Series. ISBN 978-0-00-814952-9. 482pp
Richard Jones is the go-to person in the UK for beetles, and this book which germinated as a suggestion in 2014 eclosed as the most remarkable book on coleoptera four years later. It is the first on beetles in the New Naturalists Series which has been much overdue. With 4,118 species of beetle in the UK this indeed is mostly a UK-centric review of the richness of beetles, with occasional forays into beetles of the world where there are 1-3 million waiting to be discovered. Raised in the shadow of the South Downs with his current ‘manor’ of Sydenham Hill and Dulwich Woods, Jones introduction to beetles has not left any piece of dung, bark, compost, fungus matt unturned in his quest for his favourite prey. He has delivered excellent chapters on ‘What is a Beetle’, ‘Beetle Variety’, ‘Life Histories’, quirks, oddities, flight and general natural history. The fine morphological details remind one of Imm’s General Textbook of Entomology’. There are colour photographs throughout, which is always pleasing in these new NNS editions, especially so with Penny Metal’s superlative images. Species decline has inevitably caught up with Jones as there are species that he writes about that he has either never seen or rarely seen, Blaps ‘maybe on its way out’ or Platyrhinus – not seen – or oil beetles –only one seen. There is a large and very useful section on British beetle families each illustrated and fully described. A full index, references, keys and glossary complete this fabulous book which is to be recommended to all entomologists and naturalists.
David Plummer, 2017. 7 Years of Camera Shake, One Man’s Passion for Photographing Wildlife. Unbound. 256pp. In aid of Parkinson’s UK. ISBN 978 1 7852 392 4
Renowned wildlife photographer David Plummer found that he had Parkinson’s when he was 40 seven years ago. This book is a perspective of his work. The picture perfect images from around the tropics, Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Galapagos show wildlife in close-up, mostly birds, mammals and reptiles with some from his base in Sussex. The book is a delight (large format 28x26cm), an impressive production with a single amazing photograph on each page accompanied by a brief description. The colour reproduction is spot-on showing off the stunning colours of toucans, skimmers, owls and kingfishers. His patience in getting the right shot of leopards, and jaguars in the Pantanal is evident in the photographs, and his arduous field techniques are explored. This is a book that is worth having for just for its amazing photography. It is crowd-sourced by the many people who have contributed to the publishers Unbound and half of the profits go to Parkinson’s UK (https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/).
Michael Grove’s length speech at the Oxford Farming Conference (4 Jan 2017) mentioned ‘biodiversity’ twice, and ‘Green Brexit’ once. It is encouraging and surprising times for wildlife and nature conservation with Secretary of State Gove at the Defra helm. ..’we will design…through countryside stewardship and agri-environmental schemes…to enhance the natural environment by planting new woodlands, providing new habitats for wildlife, increasing biodiversity…and returning cultivated land to wildflower meadows or other more natural states.’ The Government now has a wildlife mission, a vital one no less: ‘Enhancing our natural environment is a vital mission for this Government.’ And they will be delivering a ‘Green Brexit’ by implementing various policies after leaving the EU. Gove bases a lot of his background information on ‘Natural Capital’ that reflects back to the initiatives of the Natural Capital Committee (NCC) set up in 2012. Gove is clearly enamoured by the countryside ‘ I am moved by the beauty of our natural environment’ promising ‘a truly sustainable future for the countryside’. Let’s see how this Green Brexit grows.
Biodiversity in the T&C EIA Regs 2017 – about people and quality of life
Notwithstanding the good if not adequate guidance in BS4040 on biodiversity in 2013, the 2017 T&C EIA Regulations breathe new life into the consideration of biodiversity. Whereas the concept of biodiversity was often an add-on partner in a planning application, the new T&C EIA Regs have included it in Schedule 4 as a necessity. It has included it with other topics that were not always top of the agenda, such as assessing significant effects on population, human health, biodiversity, land soil, water and landscape. Not only are the adverse effects of people an issue in EIA consideration, the effects on people is now recognised with a requirement to deal with, including objectivity and bias. These new Regs still defer to the Habitats and Birds Directives (92/43/EEC(a) & 2009/147/EC(b) respectively, as per Section 2(b)) for the applicability of the various habitats and species, but they bring together for the first time a combined obligatory assessment of all four matters, under 2(e). This is a gold-plating exercise under Regulation 26. There is thus a specific requirement ‘to assess the interaction between the factors’ listed (a-d) as ‘population and human health’ (sub-paragraph (a)) all the habitats and species in the two EU Directives named above (sub-paragraph (b)), ‘land, soil, water, air and climate’ (sub-paragraph (c)) and ‘material assets, cultural heritage and the landscape’ (sub-paragraph (d)). Biodiversity is thus centre-stage in the EIA consideration of any plan or development and has to be dealt with ‘in the round’ with all these other matters which add up to a considerate approach to living in a better environment and improved quality of life for people.
Wildlife Matters is proud to be part of a Planning Potential team which was recently granted approval for a 73 bed hotel at Headley next to the Wealden Heath Phase 2 Special Protection Area (SPA). Wildlife Matters advised on appropriate mitigation to protect the notified habitats and species: Dartford Warbler, Woodlark and Nightjar (East Hants DC #20583/030).
Asian Hornets – latest works
Feltwell, J. 2016. Identification features of the Asian Hornet. BBKA News. The newsletter of The British Beekeepers’ Association. No:223 – March 2016. 81-83.
Feltwell, J. 2017. The arrival of the Asian hornet, Vespa velutina Lepeletier, 1836 into the UK in 2016. Antenna 41 (2) 59-64.
Jersey Evening Post, 25 October 2017. Asian hornets: Praise for ‘model approach’.https://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2017/10/25/asian-hornets-praise-for-model-approach/ about John Feltwell’s visit to Jersey