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‘Doubling nature’ initiative launched at the Hamptons

‘Doubling nature’ initiative launched at the Hamptons

Local nature partnership, Natural Cambridgeshire, today (29 July 2019) launched its plans to double wildlife habitats and natural green space across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire to create better environments where nature and people thrive.

Natural Cambridgeshire chose the Hamptons for one of its two launch events as an outstanding example of how high-quality housing development can deliver new areas of nature-rich landscape.

The initiative has been drawn up by the partnership, including local authorities, statutory agencies, conservation charities, housing developers and community groups.

The scheme will be delivered in a variety of ways:

• Existing habitat restoration schemes, such as Great Fen, Wicken Fen, Ouse Fen and the Ouse Washes – between them these projects have identified over 5000 hectares of potential new wildlife-rich land.

• Opportunities provided by the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority’s economic growth agenda - if planned and co-ordinated well, housing, mineral extraction and infrastructure development can create large areas of new green space and rich wildlife habitats– good for nature and for people. The way forward has already been shown through nature-friendly housing developments as the Hamptons. Natural Cambridgeshire estimates planned housing growth over the next 30 years could provide another 6000 hectares of land for nature.

• Planned re-focusing of agricultural subsidies on the delivery of public services, including climate change mitigation, flood prevention and the creation of wildlife habitats. There are already many good local examples of landowners and farmers managing large areas of land for nature within profitable farming businesses. Natural Cambridgeshire wants to work with them and others to expand these schemes and join them up.

• Making our current greenspaces better for nature. Natural Cambridgeshire believes both new and existing residents need to be able to enjoy nature close at hand. Through small changes to the management of amenity land in our towns and cities, we can create both more natural and more attractive places to live and exercise. Natural Cambridgeshire is working with all the local authorities across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire on the Future Parks Accelerator project (one of eight national pilots) which will allow it to identify the step changes needed to deliver this.

• Creating new sources of investment in natural capital. Natural Cambridgeshire intends to apply the learning and best practice from elsewhere in the UK and overseas to help create new investment opportunities in the maintenance and enhancement of our natural capital. These might contribute, for example, to creating new wildlife habitats, or to improving soils or water quality.

Introducing the plans, Richard Astle, chair of Natural Cambridgeshire said:

“Peterborough and Cambridgeshire have some very attractive landscapes and many special areas designated for their rich wildlife. But our natural environment faces significant challenges. We have fewer areas of nature rich land than most other counties. And this matters in the context of the climate emergency that we are well aware of now. A doubling of nature is a critical part of responding to the climate challenge, with nature providing an essential role in our ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change. If we act now and put nature at the heart of our area’s growth agenda, we have an opportunity to reverse that trend and ensure that people and nature thrive together.”

Roger Tallowin at O&H Hampton said:

“O&H Properties has a long-term approach to the careful stewardship of our natural resources. The Hamptons is recognised internationally for its nature reserves and its commitment to biodiversity. “It is possible to create a rich ecological environment from scratch alongside much-needed housing if done in a responsible way. This is an important lesson for all landowners and developers and supports Natural Cambridgeshire's ambitious but achievable vision."

Launching the initiative, Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England, said:

‘’The decline of our natural environment and wildlife is in some ways an even more urgent challenge than that of climate change. If we are to hand on to future generations the kind of vibrant, rich and beautiful environment that we know is needed for people to thrive then we must act now. This is why Natural Cambridgeshire’s excellent ambition to double the area of rich wildlife habitats and natural green space is so important - highlighting how we can deliver a better natural environment alongside the economic development and the housing that we need.

“I hope this initiative will present the kind of shining example that will show the rest of the country how great partnerships spanning different sectors can make real positive change happen on the ground.’’

Also attending the launch was the leader of Peterborough City Council, Councillor John Holdich. Speaking about the initiative he said:

“We are absolutely committed to improving the environment and have promised our residents that we will continually monitor and improve our environmental performance. We have some fantastic green spaces and areas of natural beauty where nature thrives in our city and we support projects such as this which look to build upon that for the benefit of everyone who lives, works and visits Peterborough. I am also keen to ensure that the natural environment agenda works for our inner cities too and hope to work with Natural Cambridgeshire to develop ideas for this.”

The new ambition follows on from Natural Cambridgeshire’s earlier document 'A Natural Future for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough' which outlined how each of the area’s varied landscapes could be enhanced over the next 30 years to help create a world-class environment. Natural Cambridgeshire also launched last year its Developing with Nature Toolkit, which sets out straight forward steps to ensure new developments support the recovery of local wildlife.