Corridors to protect wildlife between harbours and South Downs
A £50,000 outlay could unlock more than £1million of Heritage Lottery Funding to help Chichester District Council protect the area’s wildlife.
At a meeting of the cabinet today (Tuesday January 7), members approved plans to bid for funding for a five-year strategic wildlife corridor project, which would help to protect habitats leading from Chichester and Pagham harbours into the South Downs National Park.
The first part of the two-phase bid has to be submitted by March and leader Eileen Lintill (Con, Petworth) said members had their ‘fingers, toes and everything else crossed’ that it would be successful.
The council’s environment team came up with a policy to be included in the draft Local Plan Review which aimed to direct future development away from the corridors to allow wildlife to move around for food and to breed.
But more needs to be done to enhance and preserve them and to continue paying for a community wildlife officer when funding for the current post ends in July.
Penny Plant, cabinet member for environment, said the harbours and the park were ‘vitally important areas for the wildlife in our district’.
She added: “Many valuable habitats and species can also be found outside of these areas and along the A27 corridor – there are several important north-south links.
“These wildlife corridors are important in themselves. By connecting the South Downs with the harbours, they have a strategic function far beyond their relatively small size.”
Mrs Plant said planning policies could ‘only achieve so much’ to protect the wildlife corridors, adding: “In order to achieve a living landscape for the future, enhancements are needed as well.”
The council will bid for just under £150,000 to cover the first phase of the project – the development stage. If successful, a second bid, for just over £870,000, will be submitted to deliver the project.
To stand a chance of being successful, Chichester must commit to leading the project and to ‘match fund’ the grant to the tune of £10,000 per year over the five years.
Mrs Plant said: “This bid is an opportunity to build on the work our community wildlife officer has already done with communities across the area for several years.
“The earlier work concentrated on protecting the bird populations. This bid will have a new focus and will be working with the same parish groups and volunteers and expanding to the east of the city.
“We are pleased that our expression of interest was well-received by the Heritage Lottery Fund and hope that the full bid will be successful too.”