Open Letter Calling on Hackney and Waltham Forest to Appoint Biodiversity Officers

The following letter has been sent to Waltham Forest and Hackney Councils and is signed by a number of environmental organisations and campaigners from both boroughs:

Dear Cllr Robbins and Mayor Pipe,

We are writing to urge both Waltham Forest Council and Hackney Council to appoint
suitably qualified, permanent, full-time biodiversity officers as a priority.

We need biodiversity officers in both boroughs to forge relationships within and
beyond each council to ensure that biodiversity is given full, proper and appropriate
consideration in all decision making and, specifically, that the biodiversity aspects of
planning applications are scrutinised.

Biodiversity is not a luxury, affordable only during the good times, but fundamental to the achievement of all policy objectives. Our environment is our community.

We welcome your response.

Yours sincerely
Claire Weiss
Jason Broadbent
Robin Grey
Joe Ward
David Rees
Oliver Williams
Caroline Day
Vicky Sholund
Peter Mudge
Celia Coram
Paul Charman
Katy Andrews
Julian Cheyne
Joan Yeadon
Melissa Ronaldson, Herbalist
Councillor Ian Rathbone, Leabridge Ward, Hackney
Councillor Deniz Oguzkanli, Leabridge Ward, Hackney
Kev Dovey, Hackney Marshes User Group Committee Member
Fi Stephens, Hackney Marshes User Group Committee Member
Anna Evely, project MAYA and SEEDBALL
Damian Rafferty, Chair, Mabley Green Users Group

Abigail Woodman: The Association of Local Government Ecologists produced a
report in November 2013 called ‘Ecological Capacity and Competence in English
Planning Authorities: What is needed to deliver statutory obligations for biodiversity?’.
It states, ‘The results show that many local planning authorities do not currently have
either the capacity and/or the competence to undertake the effective, and in some
cases necessarily lawful, assessment of planning applications where biodiversity is a
material consideration.’ I would have thought that being two of only three London
boroughs without a biodiversity officer places Hackney and Waltham Forest at the
very bottom of any league table of competence, and would call for this to be rectified
immediately.

Anna O’Brien: The number of local people who understand the importance of
biodiversity is growing and local biodiversity activists will have a lot more impact if
they are supported by a strategic post in their local council. And yes, I’m asking for
this in full knowledge of the funding cuts to local councils.

Laurie Elks: Hackney’s emerging Local Development Framework contains policies for
biodiversity but without a suitably qualified officer there will be no means to give
effect to these policies. Appointing a biodiversity officer must, therefore, be a matter
of priority.
Save Lea Marshes
Pesticide Action Network UK
Millfields User Group

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