The Green Business project aims to explore a new approach to delivering the biodiversity requirement of building and construction developments to both redress the on-going decline in biodiversity in Neath Port Talbot and the delays to the planning and development process that can result from such issues. These concerns affect the whole of Wales.
An ecological and protected species consultancy, David Clements Ecology, has been appointed and they have provided an officer to develop the project. The Green Business Project began in February 2016 and, as the project has progressed, it has become apparent that there are two main themes within the scheme. Scheme One is to identify a number of potential compensation sites at a variety of locations across Neath Port Talbot and to complete an extended phase 1 survey at each site. A compensation site is one that can be used to offset the biodiversity losses or impacts that occur due to a development. The three most promising sites identified will have habitat management plans designed for them to increase their value for wildlife in the local area. Scheme Two is exploring how the council could secure an agreement with a landowner to manage the compensation sites in perpetuity in terms of habitat creation, restoration and/or the creation of features specifically to support certain species such as reptile hibernacula and how payments for these works would be agreed – this is quite a complicated process.
Numerous landowners have been contacted and approximately 6 potential compensation sites have been identified. All sites have now been surveyed and are currently being considered for suitability. Some of the sites surveyed currently already support significant biodiversity value, so it is the sites with less existing value or with good potential for improvement that will be chosen to be taken forward into the next stage of the project. The 3 most suitable sites will be progressed and detailed habitat management plans will be developed in the forthcoming month. Landowners approached to date include NPT Estates Department, local Community Councils, a private farmer and Natural Resources Wales.
Rebecca Sharp, Ecologist from the NPT Countryside and Wildlife Team said “We are grateful to receive support from NPT Regenerate and NRW to develop the Green Business idea and we are hopeful that the final innovative approach will be able to deliver the biodiversity gain intended whilst supporting developers and landowners alike. Before starting the project we knew this was going to be a complicated project to develop as it’s never been attempted before. Our Project Officer, Aislinn Harris, of David Clements Ecology Ltd, has been working tirelessly to overcome numerous hurdles whilst looking into the financial mechanisms needed to be developed. Luckily, finding a first tranche of potential sites and working with their landowners has proven a lot easier with a number of sites now being taken forward. We are looking forward to seeing how this project develops within the upcoming months.”
(copyright Aislinn Harris, David Clements Ecology).
One of the sites surveyed with amazing biodiversity interest