Potton councillor urges CBC to ‘beef-up’ conditions to protect wildlife

CBC headquarters in Chicksands.
CBC headquarters in Chicksands.

Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) has progressed a report from a local councillor keen to protect wildlife in Chronicle country.

Cllr Adam Zerny, an Independent from Potton, spoke at CBC’s Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee on September 12 and outlined a series of measures he hoped the council would adopt.

Having discussed Cllr Zerny’s proposals, the committee agreed to ask council officers to prepare a further report for the committee to view, and to ask executive members to lobby Parliament for a more stringent wildlife protection plans.

At the meeting, Cllr Zerny spoke of how he’d been affected by issues at two development sites in Potton earlier this year, which made him realise just how little protection there is for local wildlife.

The councillor spoke of being abused and threatened by workmen at one site after visiting the development to investigate claims of environmental damage. He told how this had made him determined to get something done. Cllr Zerny then worked with council officers to come-up with a series of measures he hoped would work. The recommendations in his report are as follows:

- Fund a protection team to liaise with developers for smaller development sites (fewer than 100 houses) to ensure developers appreciate their obligations. The team would share intelligence with Beds Police rural crime team to ensure wildlife crime is investigated immediately.

- A protection register of hedges which meet the Hedgerow Regulations (1997), for all areas within one mile of a town or village.

- Beefed-up planning conditions stating CBC will actively enforce against removal of hedges

- Developer code of conduct: developers to commit to an agreement about acceptable behaviour.

- CBC to push for changes in national legislation and to lobby Government ministers.

- Volunteer community environment officer (members of the local community could help record/protect assets).

At the meeting, Andrew Davie, CBC assistant director for Development and Infrastructure, said: “Cllr Zerny is absolutely right. The powers we have at the moment aren’t particularly strong and that’s a national issue which could be pursued.”

Cllr Ian Dalgarno, executive member for Community Services, said he hoped the RSPB and CPRE would support the measures.