New ways of creating wildlife habitats to make-up for precious sites being lost to development are being looked at in Solihull.
Thousands more homes and major infrastructure projects will continue to eat into the borough’s current landscape.
And this upheaval comes at a time when changes in national legislation mean that all projects will need to show they can deliver a 10 per cent increase in biodiversity.
In readiness Solihull Council this week signed-off the creation of “biodiversity banks”, which will allow – where necessary – the likes of hedgerow or wildflower meadows to be created away from the main development.
While council ecologist Jenni Blakeman said that creating these pockets off-site would be a last resort, it would allow more options in cases where creating new habitats in the same location was proving difficult.
“Whilst ideally you would be providing the biodiversity replacement as close as possible and local people could enjoy it, it’s potentially possible that’s not always going to be the case.”
The Environment Bill has been intended to toughen up the requirement to compensate for valuable spaces which are being lost to development.
Increasing fragmentation of habitat, leaving small unconnected spaces, is a major cause for concern for species including hedgehogs, as well as birdlife and pollinators.
The RSPB has said that providing spaces for wildlife to thrive was essential.
A spokesman for the charity said: “Biodiversity is crucial for our world and communities, and we welcome any effort to give nature a home in our communities.
“The 2019 State of Nature report showed 41 per cent of UK species have declined since 1970, largely as a result of human behaviour, and it’s vital decision makers help reverse this decline.
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“Incorporating nature as part of new developments is a good start.
“We’re pleased to hear local planners are taking the nature and climate emergency seriously, and hope this leads to the creation of even more space for nature in future.”
Chris Crean, from West Midlands Friends of the Earth, said it was important that “future maintenance” of any areas created wasn’t overlooked.
Ms Blakeman’s report says that for those sites which aren’t council-owned – which could become an increasing option as public land is exhausted – there would be an agreement with a landowner for 30 years’ upkeep.
The proposals were rubber-stamped by Cllr Andy Mackiewicz, cabinet member for climate change, planning and housing.