A Spodden Valley ‘plan B’ could be the natural choice
Date published: 08 June 2011
Spodden Valley campaigners have welcomed key aspects of a government environmental White Paper just published.
The Natural Choice is a 78 page report making a number of recommendations to value, restore and improve wildlife habitats and public amenity.
Proposals include the creation of Ecological Restoration Zones to restore biodiversity corridors and Nature Improvement Areas as an opportunity for new green areas local planning designations. This could allow local communities to give protection to areas that are important to them for recreation, the view or their importance for wildlife.
The White Paper aims to compliment the recent publication of UK National Ecosystem Assessment, which suggested the need to put a monetary value on the natural habitats and green amenity so that their financial importance to public well-being can be calculated.
Restored former industrial areas could be linked to old quarries, woodland, moors and or heathland areas put together to recreate stretches of protected land. Charities, businesses, landowners and communities will all be invited to propose and develop ideas.
The need to value, protect and promote safe, open green space and wildlife corridors has been welcomed by Save Spodden valley co-ordinator Jason Addy.
Mr Addy said: “This White Paper has come at a crucial time to create a “green lung” for Rochdale.
“The promotion of a green economy through natural capital accounting systems is also welcomed. For the first time we can put a cash value on promoting and protecting our habitats, biodiversity and safe access to amenity land.
“This can help justify safe and permanent contaminated land capping remediation then planting wildflower meadows and new woodland for the profit of the public rather than private property speculation.
“A “Spodden Valley plan B” from Rochdale Town Centre to the Pennine Moors would be an ideal area to pilot an Ecological Restoration Zone that could provide a positive solution for both the former site of the world's largest asbestos factory and the ongoing controversy over Ding Quarry.
“We already have an excellent ongoing track record with community engagement along the river Spodden - the Healey Dell Nature Reserve has a joint management committee comprising of Rochdale, Rossendale and Lancashire County Councils with an active Friends Group.
“With the refusal in January 2011 of the controversial proposal to build over 600 homes on the former Turner Brother Asbestos site a “Community Spodden Valley Plan B” could be a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to link Rochdale communities via a safe green corridor from our town centre to our moorlands.”
On the launch of the The Natural Choice White Paper Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “Nature belongs to us all, and we’ve all got a vested interest in protecting it.”
The Natural Choices White Paper is available to view via the DEFRA website at: http://www.archive.defra.gov.uk/environment/natural/documents/newp-white-paper-110607.pdf
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