Replies to Our Joint Letter Requesting Hackney and Waltham Forest Recruit Biodiversity Officers

Dear Ian and Deniz

RE: Biodiversity officers

I am writing to you as signatories to a joint letter dated 17 December 2013 regarding the above matter, which was addressed to both myself and Cllr Chris Robbins, Leader of Waltham Forest Council.
I would like to assure you that Hackney Council takes its responsibilities in relation to biodiversity very seriously, and – as I’m sure you know – the Council published a borough-wide biodiversity action plan in 2012.
Whilst I understand that the biodiversity officer post within the Council’s Leisure & Green Spaces department is currently vacant and under review, during 2013 this service has continued to work towards the targets set out in the action plan, and the Hackney Biodiversity Partnership meets every two months to discuss progress.
Amongst the action plan targets already met are:
– the appointment of a GIS mapper to map the borough’s parks and their habitats
– running a wildflower meadow training course for Hackney’s gardeners
– running a wildlife recording campaign
– commissioning the London Wildlife Trust to deliver biodiversity enhancements to Clissold Park (which has so far generated 459 volunteer hours)
– planting Hackney’s largest wildflower meadow in London Fields
It is also worth emphasising that the biodiversity officer would not be responsible for commenting on any non-parks related planning applications. If this service is required the planning department will continue to seek the advice of independent ecologists – as it does currently for any parks-related or other applications where appropriate.
I hope that this information is helpful, and I am happy for you to forward this to the other signatories to the letter if you have their contact details. I would also encourage residents to visit www.hackney.gov.uk/biodiversity, where you can find links to Hackney’s biodiversity action plan and also to the London-wide action plan, as well as other information relating to Hackney’s approach to biodiversity issues. I hope that you will be reassured that this is an issue that Hackney continues to recognise as of vital importance to the borough and its residents.
Yours sincerely
Jules Pipe
Mayor of Hackney
To: Ian Rathbone (Cllr); Deniz Oguzkanli (Cllr)
CC: leader@walthamforest.gov.uk

Dear Caroline Day,

Thank you for your recent email asking Waltham Forest to appoint a full-time biodiversity officer.

The Council’s Nature Conservation Officer covers biodiversity for the Waltham Forest administrative area.  We take a proactive approach to biodiversity and geological conservation, taking full account of our statutory obligations and their impact within the planning system.  The Nature Conservation Officer is the internal consultee for planning applications within the authority and applications are properly scrutinised with our planners.  Following careful consideration of applications appropriate protection and mitigation measures are put into place where pertinent and wherever possible enhancement measures in respect of biodiversity are included. Therefore biodiversity is given full, proper and appropriate consideration in all decision-making within the borough.

LBWF policies including the LBWF Biodiversity Action Plan, Development Management Policies Local Plan Adoption Version 36 Policy DM35 – Biodiversity and Geodiversity,  give clear guidance with respect to Biodiversity in Waltham Forest along with the core strategy 8 Policy CS5- Enhancing Green Infrastructure and Biodiversity.

We have strong links and good working relationships particularly with Lea Valley Regional Park Authority and City Of London Conservators of Epping Forest, along with Natural England, and also work with (TCV) Trust for Conservation Volunteers & (LWT) London Wildlife Trust &  Lea Valley bats as well as local Friends Groups.

Generally, the Council’s Grounds Maintenance & Arboricultural Contract Monitoring Officers are aware of the importance of biodiversity and where appropriate enhance through species selection for planting schemes in shrub beds, highway verges, also parks and open spaces owned by the authority.  Furthermore schemes designed by the Council’s Strategic Parks & Open Spaces Officer will also enhance and further improve biodiversity on land managed by the Council where appropriate.

I trust this information is helpful but please do not hesitate to contact me again if you need particular clarification on any point.

Best wishes,

Cllr Chris Robbins

Leader of the Council

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