Awards 2021 Winner’s Spotlight: Planning Authority of the Year
Telford & Wrekin Council
Through a bespoke ‘Green Guarantee’ land management commitment, and the Local Wildlife Site and Local Nature Reserve (LNR) declaration process, Telford and Wrekin Council (TWC) has committed to protect over 1000 hectares of locally important green space in its ownership. Between 2016 and 2020, six LNRs have been fully declared, with a further four undergoing the final stages of legal declaration at the time of nomination. The final LNR within the council’s current commitment was due for approval in March 2021 and the council is on track to complete its current LNR pipeline ten years early!
There has been an ongoing rise in the provision of LNR for every 1000 residents, from 0.74 ha for every 1,000 residents in 1993 to 3.12 ha currently. This demonstrates a consistent longterm approach by the LPA to nature conservation, biodiversity, and people and wildlife.
The Council’s ecology team is embedded within both planning and planning policy teams, ensuring their involvement across the whole decision-making process. TWC is committed to ensuring a landscape scale approach is applied to decision-making. In 2020, the Council launched their bespoke, locally-led Great Crested Newt district level licencing scheme. The Council scheme is unique in being the first scheme to fully administer both the licencing process and habitat delivery. The team have worked with Natural England to build in elements to the licence that are currently only delivered in the borough, including the requirement for developers to undertake onsite reasonable avoidance measures, and the channelling of a proportion of developer contributions into the management of the boroughs most important newt populations.
TWC is dedicated to the professional development of its staff with recent training focussing on upskilling the ecology team in preparation for mandatory biodiversity net-gain. TWC also runs a successful placement scheme with Harper Adams University that provides dedicated in-house training, ensuring student leave with a sound understanding of the planning system, legislation and policy relating to the natural environment. In 2018/2019 the Council helped the Telford Green Space Partnership restructure its constitution allowing the organisation to deliver a ‘bottom up’ approach – empowering local groups to work more closely together and better share knowledge, skills and capacity. Following which, in 2020, the Partnership successfully secured nearly £8000 from the Councils ‘Capacity Building’ fund to deliver a series of training days for members ranging from species survey skills, practical land management skills and how to write and engage with the production of site management plans. TWC also launched ‘My Wild Telford’ aiming to encourage residents to promote, share and celebrate the green spaces in the borough, and support during the pandemic.
Over the last few weeks, we have been posting further information on each of the 2021 CIEEM Awards Winners over on our blog. Further details on each project/individual is set out in our 2021 CIEEM Awards Booklet.