A ground breaking project that aims to safeguard and enhance proposed strategic wildlife corridors that connect the South Downs National Park to the internationally designated sites of Chichester and Pagham Harbours, has been given the go-ahead by councillors at Chichester District Council.
At a meeting of Full Council on 23 November, councillors agreed to release £575,000, spread across five years, from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to cover most of the costs associated with the project. In total, the project will cost £665,000, which includes £90,000 from Network Rail for enhancements where the railway crosses the corridors.
Wildlife corridors, including woods, hedgerows and streams, are essential for allowing species to move and migrate for food and to breed, and provide a living landscape around the most important wildlife sites, which cannot exist in isolation but need connections to other sites and habitats. They also allow species to adapt in response to changes, both natural and man-made, making them resilient and helping to ensure their survival over the longer term.
“This is the first time it has been proposed that wildlife corridors be strategically included in planning policies that we are aware of. It literally is ground breaking,” says Cllr Susan Taylor, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning at Chichester District Council.
“This will make a huge difference in protecting the wealth of wildlife we are so lucky to have in our district. This is a key part of our emerging local plan, which seeks to plan for the future of our district over the next 15 years.
“As well as enhancing and safeguarding these areas and helping our district’s wildlife become more resilient to environmental change, we’ll also be engaging local people with their district’s wildlife and building on the knowledge and expertise of our current Community Wildlife Officer.”
The project will deliver green infrastructure enhancements on up to 60 sites, across seven corridors. Each site will have an agreement in place with local landowners to continue to maintain the corridors, with support from the local community.
People can find out more about the work being done to help protect our district’s wildlife at: www.chichester.gov.uk/biodiversity
The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a levy on certain types of new development which Chichester District Council has been charging since 2016. Money collected pays for new and improved infrastructure to deliver the adopted Local Plan.
Projects put forward for CIL funding are included in the council’s annual Infrastructure Business Plan (IBP). This is a living document which is updated each year to take into account how much money has been made available and how much of each type of infrastructure is still needed.
More information about the CIL can be found at: https://www.chichester.gov.uk/article/33540/Community-Infrastructure-Levy-CIL-and-Section-106---Developer-Contributions