4. Making the Plan Happen
will the BAP be developed over time?
It is envisaged that the Lancashire BAP will be a dynamic plan that will change over time. Not only will new action plans be added but, as targets are achieved or new information becomes available, the existing plans will be amended under the guidance of the Lancashire BAP Steering Group. Updates will be posted onto this website along with opportunities for involvement in project work, discussion groups, training and the provision of ecological information.
From the very beginnings of the Plan, the practicality of implementation has been of concern in defining the objectives, actions, targets, timescales and the partners involved. Whilst the Plan had to be challenging in the targets set, it also had to be rooted in what was possible within the resource limitations of agencies and individuals. Many agencies and individuals are already investing considerable effort in biodiversity conservation, much of it is highly focussed and efficient. This best practice could be spread to others through partnership working and the integration of BAP targets into policy and work plans is a consideration for all of us. Through the adoption of a combined effort across Lancashire and a focussing of resources within agencies towards achieving targets, considerable progress can be made in safeguarding and enhancing wildlife.
The People Plan concentrates on raising awareness and encouraging implementation of the Plan within organisations, groups and individuals.
The Habitat and Species Action Plans identify the key partners who could play a major role in the co-ordination or implementation of plan actions. The bringing together, supporting and monitoring of these partners will be the ultimate responsibility of the Steering Group.
A number of implementation groups will be established who will co-ordinate work on the ground and monitor progress. These groups may be responsible for a species plan, such as the great crested newt or a habitat, such as, arable farmland. However, where biodiversity hotspots occur, it may be prudent to ask a group to co-ordinate the implementation and monitoring of a range of plans within a geographical area.
As the Lancashire Biodiversity Plan moves into its implementation phase, a project co-ordinator will help to establish a number of habitat and species groups around the County and continue the co-ordination of the 'People Plan' and monitoring outputs. The co-ordinator will feedback information from the groups to the Steering Group and support the supply of information to the regional and national level.
The UK BAP contains agreed national targets, for example for habitat restoration, creation or management, and for species populations. These targets are expressed wihin the Natural Area framework that has been established for the whole of England. Delivery of targets in the Lancashire Plan will contribute towards the UK goals. The mechanism for linking reporting of local achievements to the UK BAP is currently being developed through the National Biodiversity Network (NBN). At a regional level (7) and at the Lancashire County (3) level biodiversity indicators have been chosen to gauge the region’s progress towards sustainable development. The Lancashire Biodiversity partnership will aid this monitoring process by providing updates on progress.
Underlying the Lancashire BAP is the desire to maintain the present wildlife heritage of the County and to take appropriate opportunities to enhance degraded habitats and populations. Where resources will allow, new habitats that are characteristic of the County could be developed or the extension of existing wildlife areas.
A number of important Lancashire Plan actions relate to wildlife in areas protected by European and/or national legislation. The statutory agencies work closely with owners and managers of these sites to establish sympathetic management regimes. The biodiversity planning process adds value and support to these arrangements and encourages protection of these premier sites.
Only 6.7% (20,598 ha) of Lancashire lies within areas protected by Site of Special Scientific Interest above high water mark with a further 23,523 ha of estuary and bay below high water. Outside these protected areas, there is still a considerable richness of habitat and species within the wider countryside and townscape; these areas are also vital in securing a sustainable future for wildlife.
A number of these wider countryside sites have been identified as non-statutory Wildlife Sites and in Lancashire are called Biological Heritage Sites (BHS). ‘Collectively, these statutory and non-statutory sites may be referred to as the County's "critical environmental capital" so far as its biological resources are concerned. Any losses of these sites would be regarded as significant beyond the immediate locality, and would be difficult or impossible to make good for all practical purposes (e.g. because of antiquity, complexity, location or special environmental requirements). The survival and conservation of Biological Heritage Sites is therefore a key indicator of sustainable development in Lancashire.’(8)
As most of these sites are in private ownership, the awareness and support of Lancashire's landowners and land managers is central to achieving and maintaining biodiversity and a rich natural environment. Providing support via technical information and access to grant aid for sustainable management of BHSs and other environmental management works is a common theme within the Lancashire BAP and is emphasised in the People Plan.
Appendix 7 provides an overview of the statutory and non-statutory sites of particular interest to biodiversity conservation in Lancashire.
The future forecast for the Northwest suggests that in the next fifty years, temperatures will increase by between 0.8 C and 2 C. Winter rainfall will rise by between 6% and 14% and summer rainfall may be reduced by up to 10%. Sea level will rise by between 12cm and 67cm (9). Changes of climate of these magnitudes will have a significant impact upon our present biodiversity especially as Lancashire is on a major climatic divide between the warmer and drier southeast of Britain and the cooler and wetter northwest of the country.
One of the strengths of working as a partnership is that organisations can pool resources to achieve a task that otherwise would have been impossible individually. Many of the tasks set out in the BAP will be resourced in this way. Some of the money to pay for the plan's implementation will have already been secured by organisations that have undertaken to carry out particular tasks, often through collaborative working. Other tasks will be achieved by the refinement of change of emphasis of an ongoing work programme. Yet many tasks that have been identified as being important are currently unfunded, and during the next few years projects will have to be developed and costs assigned to these actions, so that bids can be made to potential funding bodies.
Recently introduced sources of funding are becoming increasingly important for biodiversity conservation. They include: European Structural Funding, the Landfill Tax Credits scheme and Lottery funds. These and other funds will be among those applied for to implement elements of the Lancashire BAP that are presently unfunded. This is likely to be done as a major Partnership bid where appropriate.
Commercial sponsorship can be effective in supporting conservation work and awareness raising projects. Examples include United Utilities support of otter conservation work in Lancashire and a number of initiatives supported through the Mersey Basin Campaign.
A major source for funding conservation is through various grants for land management from MAFF and the Forestry Commission. In Lancashire the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and Woodland Grant Scheme have considerable potential to deliver biodiversity targets. These schemes provide farmers and land-managers with grants to manage their land in ways which benefit land incomes, as well as taking into account biodiversity, landscape, historical and cultural aspects. To help secure a future for biodiversity of farmed land in Lancashire, it is of major importance that funding and effective targeting of agri-environment schemes, such as Stewardship or any similar future schemes, is maintained and enhanced to meet future demand.
English Nature also maintains a Biodiversity Action Grants scheme through which funding may be available to achieve some objectives relating to UK Priority Species and Priority Habitats.
A great many key initiative and strategies recognise the importance of safeguarding wildlife and its importance to the environment and to quality of life. The following is a brief review of some key initiatives and their importance to the local Biodiversity Action Plan process.
Action for Sustainability – Northwest England’s Framework for a Better Quality of Life(9): This framework has been developed by the Government Office for the North West, the North West Regional Assembly and a wide range of regional partners. The Action Plan recognises that ‘the state of our natural environment is inextricably linked to both our mental and physical well being and to our economic viability.’ ‘Biodiversity is the most powerful marker we possess for gauging the health of our planet. Conserving wildlife and their habitats ensures that nature is part of people’s daily lives. It supports the tourism industry and enhances our image as a clean and healthy region.’ The establishment and delivery of national and local biodiversity action plans is a primary target of the Action Plan.
English Nature's Natural Areas Profiles (10): Natural Areas are tracts of countryside that are readily recognised by their special characteristics of wildlife, landscape and land use. They are intended to provide a framework for setting conservation objectives at the local level (in most cases at a sub-county level), and are not constrained by administrative boundaries.
Natural Area Profiles define the most important nature conservation features in a given Area and propose the objectives for action to maintain and enhance those features. The Profiles provide a framework on which the Lancashire BAP has built. While the Profiles inform much of the underlying vision and set the broad agenda for conservation in the county, the BAP proposes more detailed and defined targets and, importantly, the mechanisms and timetables to implement them.
Local Environment Agency Plans (11): The Environment Agency's wide range of duties and powers relating to environmental protection and management (such as improving air quality, managing water resources and fisheries, furthering the conservation of biodiversity) are addressed on a river catchment basis by Local Environment Agency Plans, or LEAPs. LEAPs will be one way of implementing certain objectives in the Lancashire BAP at the local level. Whilst the Lancashire BAP will generally not set out targets at a fine spatial scale, such as a river catchment, it is the function of LEAPs to do so, by interpreting BAP objectives to action on the ground.
Local Planning Authority Development Plans and Strategies: Under the provision of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 local authorities have a duty in their Development Plans (comprising Structure and Local Plans) to include policies which act to conserve the natural beauty and amenity of land, including wildlife. In addition, Regulation 37 of the Habitats Regulations 1994 requires these plans to contain policies which encourage the management of features of the landscape that are important for wildlife.
Local Authorities will look to the Lancashire BAP for guidance on policies appropriate to Development Plans, Local Agenda 21 and Community Strategies, during the next few years. In this way, it is envisaged that these development plans will play an important function in delivering biodiversity targets in Lancashire, through both the safeguard of statutorily and locally designated sites, for species protection and in restoring, creating and managing habitats and landscape features.