Over the past few years we have seen a number of milestone reports leading to shifts in Government policy which aim to halt the decline of biodiversity across the UK. The first inkling of change was the Lawton report “Making Space for Nature: A review of England’s Wildlife Sites and Ecological Network” published by Defra in 2010 which identified that the existing system of protected sites and reserves was inadequate and insufficient to halt the rapid decline in UK wildlife. Some of the recommendations of this report passed into policy In 2011 within the Government White Paper “The Natural Choice – securing the value of nature”. Last year saw the publication of the 25-year Environment Plan which makes it clear that all future industrial, residential and infrastructure development is dependent on improving conditions for wildlife. Continue reading
The only certainty for farmers and landowners over the next few years is uncertainly. For over 70 years individual farmers have benefited from price support and more recently from area payments for owning or farming land. In leaving the EU it is likely that the Government will move towards a system of payments which require landowners for providing a range of public benefits based on ecosystem services. Michael Gove has announced a pilot ELMS (Environmental Land Management Scheme) to start in 2021, with the intention of it becoming national and replacing the current Basic Payments Scheme, and indeed Countryside Stewardship, in 2024. How the detail will come about and whether Brexit will slow things remains to be seen, but we will all benefit from this policy which over time, which will improve air and water quality, reduce flood risk and enhance wildlife. Continue reading
We have recently been working on a contract for a private client, funded through Natural England, undertaking a feasibility study into the restoration of species rich grassland and also freshwater wetland habitats. The Tamar Valley AONB is helping facilitate the work and it also involves the Environment Agency. Add in to the mix that the landowner is a former Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group advisor and you have a rather nice group of people to work for! Continue reading
The latest market research report published by Environment Analyst (https://environment-analyst.com/) shows that the UK environmental consulting (EC) market grew by 5.1% during 2017 to reach a total turnover of £1.74bn. Continued growth for the UK environment sector is expected to be around 4.8% for 2018 when all the figures become available.
Large infrastructure projects, increased public sector spend and streamlined management structures are helping consultancies to achieve continued healthy growth, so there is no evidence of Brexit blues at the current time.
Amanda Urmson is a Landscape Architect with over 18 years’ experience in both public and private sectors. She is experienced in multi-disciplinary team work on major developments, and in partnering contracts and frameworks. Fluent in end-to-end working on various types of project, including urban spaces; infrastructure and highways schemes; schools; public open spaces, and reclamation schemes, Amanda has built strong project management skills, and a good breadth of knowledge across environmental sectors, structure planning and development control. Continue reading
This blog has some historical information, but please indulge me as I include some information from a previous job restoring the Montgomery Canal! The canal is a SSSI for large sections of its length and also a SAC in Wales, primarily for rare aquatic plants, which happily co-existed with horse-drawn barges, but do not like modern propellers and silt disturbance. Add in 127 listed structures, the 1986 Parliamentary Acct to restore the canal and many active restoration volunteers and you have quite a mix.
What is a landscape architect? We are generally very familiar with ‘Architects’ designing built structures, and with engineers making them happen, but what about the open spaces surrounding and between structures? They rarely simply ‘happen’ and require a level of thought from the modest to the sublime. Many of us are familiar with garden designers and landscapers, backed up by a host of television coverage from quick fix gardens to the Chelsea flower show design sets, but what about parks, towns and large landscapes? Continue reading
A castle has stood on the same site at Leeds in Kent for 900 years, and in 1280 Eleanor of Castile laid out a Moorish courtyard garden. Over the centuries following Kings and noblemen have developed the landscape, including Tudor viewing terraces and 19th century cascades. The 20th century saw the great wealth of Lady Baillie once again restore and develop the castle and grounds, a tradition continued by the Leeds Castle Foundation today. Great names have included Russell Page, Stephane Boudin, Simon Verity, the Bannermans, Francois Goffinet and Adrian Fisher, and now the pleasure grounds enter a 21st century period of development.
Started in 2017, the 20th century ‘Wood Garden’ is being transformed Continue reading
Japanese Knotweed has recently made national headlines, as Network Rail were found liable in the Court of Appeal, for damage from untreated Japanese Knotweed spreading into neighbouring gardens. Japanese Knotweed is one of Britain’s most invasive plants and the prevention of its spread is a legal obligation for landowners under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is difficult and expensive to manage but non-intervention is not really an option. Early treatment of a new colony is quicker, cheaper and preferable to leaving it to become established.
Japanese knotweed was introduced to the UK by the Victorians in the mid 1800s. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew have a record of receiving a plant specimen, sent unsolicited by a keen botanist overseas, on 9 August 1850. The earliest record of a nurseryman selling the plant was in 1854, when neighbouring Kingston nurserymen Messrs Jackson and Son started trading in it , hopefully not relatives of our Matt Jackson! Surrey’s famous garden designer Gertrude Jekyll even recommended the planting of a dwarf version in some of her designs, although she later rescinded, saying it should be “planted with caution.”
Well caution was perhaps an understatement Continue reading
An alarming warning comes from Spring Watch presenter Chris Packham this week (read it here), concerning the gulf between wildlife diversity in our nature reserves and that within the wider countryside.
All of this comes about from 70 years of agricultural intensification, urban sprawl and infrastructure expansion. Our network of Nature Reserves is piecemeal, widely scattered and has no strategic plan or design. All the studies of wildlife populations and distributions show that our current protection measures are simply inadequate. When was it decided that wildlife should be looked after within nature reserves and everything else could be trashed?. Oh and by the way there is no money for managing nature reserves as they are “unproductive”.
Farmers, have been all too happy to call themselves “the guardians of the countryside” but have clearly failed on an epic scale. Continue reading