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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 01/04/2003
DESIGNATION OF FIVE LOCAL NATURE RESERVES



The purpose of this report is to obtain endorsement for the proposal to proceed with designation of five areas of public open space, owned and managed by Waverley Borough Council, as Local Nature Reserves under Section 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.

There are environmental as well as “Opportunities for All” implications. As Local Nature Reserves qualify for English Nature grant funding, there are resource implications for the future management of Farnham Park, The Lammas Lands, Lower Hanger, Weybourne Nature Area and Wonersh Common.
APPENDIX Q

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE – 1ST APRIL 2003

Title:
DESIGNATION OF FIVE LOCAL NATURE RESERVES
[Wards Affected: All Farnham, Godalming, and
Haslemere; Blackheath and Wonersh]

Summary and Purpose

The purpose of this report is to obtain endorsement for the proposal to proceed with designation of five areas of public open space, owned and managed by Waverley Borough Council, as Local Nature Reserves under Section 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.

There are environmental as well as “Opportunities for All” implications. As Local Nature Reserves qualify for English Nature grant funding, there are resource implications for the future management of Farnham Park, The Lammas Lands, Lower Hanger, Weybourne Nature Area and Wonersh Common.

Introduction and Background

1. Section 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 gives Local Authorities the power to acquire, declare and manage Local Nature Reserves (LNRs). There are currently 25 LNRs in Surrey; two of them are in Waverley – The Flashes at Frensham Common and Rowhill Copse near Farnham. This report proposes five more: Farnham Park, The Lammas Lands, Godalming, Lower Hanger, Haslemere, Weybourne Nature Area and Wonersh Common (part).

2. English Nature suggests that LNRs may be used as indicators for sustainability and suggests that Local Authorities should aim to provide at least 1 hectare of LNR per 1,000 head of population. The latest published figures, based on mid-1997 population estimates, indicate that in Waverley there is 1.02 hectare of LNR per 1,000 residents. The proposal contained in this report would have the effect of adding a total of 181 hectares of LNR and increasing that figure to 2.58 hectares, indicating the Council’s commitment to manage the areas as nature reserves and to protect them from inappropriate uses or development, as well as contributing towards the attainment of Local Biodiversity Action Plan targets, LA21 Strategy objectives and Cultural Strategy aims.

3. Sites proposed for declaration as LNRs should be of reasonable natural interest, of high local value for the informal enjoyment of nature by the public and capable of being managed for nature conservation, study and research. In evaluating sites, consideration is given to the following factors:-

flora, fauna and habitats;

geology and geomorphology;

use for school-based education;

use for community education;

use for research; and

value to local people.

The Designation Process

4. Following identification of the five proposed LNRs, summary Management Plans were produced, including site map, description, special value for nature conservation, management objectives and main operations. The summary Plans have been placed in the Members’ Room. Location plans are included as an Annexe to this report.

5. Informal consultation with English Nature officers and Town and Parish Councils has been carried out. English Nature has indicated its support for the proposed designations.

6. Godalming Town Council generally welcomed the recognition of the Lammas Lands’ importance by designation as an LNR. However, confirmation was sought that there would still be limited public access to some sensitive parts of the area and that events, such as the annual bonfire and best decorated boat competition, would not be adversely affected by the designation.

7. Haslemere Town Council and its Natural History Society warmly welcomed the proposal to designate Lower Hanger Wood and recognised the potential for involvement of the local community, particularly schools, in the management of the area and the possibility of improving access and addressing environmental problems, such as dumping and fly tipping.

8. Farnham Town Council and Wonersh Parish Council have confirmed their support for the designation of Farnham Park, Weybourne Nature Area and Wonersh Common (part) as Local Nature Reserves.

9. Approval is sought for the LNR designations to proceed, for formal consultation with English Nature and within that organisation, followed by the adoption of costed Management Plans.

10. Formal declaration of LNR status would be made under Section 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 and advertised by public notice. All relevant organisations would be notified, including English Nature, Surrey County Council, Town and Parish Councils. The LNRs would then be included on the Local Plan Proposals Map at the next review.

11. The Executive should itself consider this issue having regard to the Council’s capacity, both as a local authority with statutory power to provide nature reserves and also as the owner of the land which is actually being provided. Members should be satisfied that, as land owner, it is appropriate for the Council to make its own land available for the purpose of a nature reserve as referred to above.

Environmental Implications

12. The designation of additional LNRs in the Borough would highlight the local nature conservation value and significance of sites that Waverley owns and manages. It would demonstrate the Council’s ongoing commitment to managing its countryside to improve access and increase biodiversity.

"Opportunities for All" Implications

13. LNRs are selected for their potential to benefit the local community by involving people in management decision making, improving access and interpretation and encouraging closer working with local schools.

Resource Implications

14. The designation of five LNRs can be achieved within existing staffing and revenue budget provisions (including legal and advertising costs).

15. There are limited funds available to carry out management work on the Council’s 1,600 hectares (4,000 acres) of countryside estate and it has become increasingly necessary to seek external funding to supplement budgets. LNR status would make these sites eligible for funding applications to English Nature under their “Wildspace” Grant Scheme.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:-

1. approval be given to proceed with the designation of Farnham Park, the Lammas Lands, Lower Hanger, Weybourne Nature Area and Wonersh Common (part) as Local Nature Reserves under Section 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949;

2. these Local Nature Reserves be included on the Local Plan Proposals Map at its next review; and

3. officers are given support to set up Local Management Groups to involve the community in planning maintenance and to apply to appropriate external agencies, such as English Nature, for grant aid to fund future improvements.

Background Papers (DoE&L)

1. English Nature – Local Nature Reserves in England : A Guide to their Selection and Declaration.
2. English Nature – “Wildspace!” A Grant Scheme for Local Nature Reserves.
3. Proposed Local Nature Reserves Summary Plans and Site Maps.
4. Consultation letters dated 18th December 2002 to Farnham Town Council, Godalming Town Council, Haslemere Town Council and Cranleigh Parish Council.

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Mrs D Stamp Telephone: 01483 523443
E-Mail: dstamp@waverley.gov.uk

comms/executive/2002-03/564