MPs Concerns over Kaye Meadows
Itís not only local councillors on Bradfield Parish Council who have concerns over how the decision to cultivate Kaye Meadows was taken.
Angela Smith, who is also the chair of the influential all party Wildlife group at Westminster, recently wrote to the Secretary of State for the Environment to strengthen the Natural England & Rural Communities Act 2006 so that action can be taken against parish councils suspected of not having paid due regard to the biodiversity of their area when taking decisions.
Commenting on her letter, Angela Smith said
ďAt present very little action can be taken against parish councils if it is suspected they have not observed their statutory duties. They cannot be taken to the Ombudsman and Natural Englandís powers are limited to offering advice.
ďThis I believe is wrong and I have asked the Secretary of State to look at strengthening the powers of Natural England.Ē
The situation at Kaye Meadows arose when despite expert advice from Natural England, the Wildlife Trust, and a former city Ecologist, Bradfield Parish Council decided to give permission to allow cultivation of an unimproved grassland meadow near Oughtibridge.
At present Natural England, under section 40 of the NERC Act, only has the power to stop such developments when the land is of national importance. l
Parish Councils are also not covered by the Local Government Ombudsman. The only course left open is through lobbying of local members and officials which is not really satisfactory, if maladministration is suspected.
Issued : 15 October 2008