Monmouthshire’s Commitment to Nature : The Biodiversity Duty
Section 6 of the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 places a duty on public authorities to seek to maintain and enhance biodiversity where it is within the proper exercise of their functions. In doing so, public authorities must seek to promote the resilience of ecosystems. This means that Monmouthshire County Council must take a pro-active approach to improve and not reduce biodiversity when carrying out functions.
The duty came into force on 21st May 2016 and replaces the earlier Biodiversity duty in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.
Habitats and Species of Principle Importance for Wales in Monmouthshire
Section 7 of the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 states that Welsh Ministers must prepare and publish a list of the living organisms and types of habitat (the Section 7 lists), which in their opinion, are of principal importance for the purpose of maintaining and enhancing biodiversity in relation to Wales. Public authorities, in complying with the Section 6 duty must have regard to the Section 7 lists, which provides a focus on species and habitats of principal importance.
Monmouthshire County Council developed a Forward Plan to commit to complying with the new duties which is a requirement on all public authorities. There is a requirement to report on the plan in 2019 and every 3 years following this. The plan will be reviewed following the reporting. The objectives of the plan are to:
1. Embed biodiversity throughout decision making at all levels
2. Provide environmental education to raise awareness and encourage action
3. Undertake land management for biodiversity and promote ecosystem resilience
4. Influence land management to improve ecosystem resilience
5. Tackle key pressures on species and habitats
6. Support landscape scale projects and partnerships to maximise delivery
7. Monitor the effectiveness of the plan and review
As part of the development of the Monmouthshire Biodiversity Forward Plan a review of the Section 7 lists was undertaken to identify which species occur in Monmouthshire.
We will soon be publishing a report to document the biodiversity action delivered by Monmouthshire County Council and its partners since the biodiversity duty was adopted. The following are examples of our work:
Development Management – The Green Infrastructure team works closely with Development Management to ensure a GI approach to development. We ensure that biodiversity is considered through the planning process in line with policy and legislation.
Pollinators – We have been working with Grounds Maintenance and Rural Development Plan colleagues through the Nature Isn’t Neat project to identify opportunities to improve land management for pollinating insects focussing on changes to grassland mowing regimes in Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth.
Monlife sites – We have been developing Green Infrastructure Management Plans for some of our key sites to ensure that we get the best out of them for biodiversity. We will continue to develop and manage high quality sites for informal recreation with linkages across and beyond the site.
Training – Highways, Development Management and Grounds Maintenance teams have had biodiversity training to enable them to adequately consider biodiversity when they carry out their statutory functions.