Westleigh Environment and Conservation Policy
Councillor Lesley Burgess June 2016
The author of the policy does not attempt to address all the environmental issues, but hopes to create a baseline for further work.
The parish of Westleigh includes the villages of Eastleigh and Ashridge and extends to Tapeley Park and Saltrens on the River Torridge.
Westleigh village was designated a conservation area in 1975 with the addition of Westliving in 2013. It has 28 listed buildings within the area, 27 at Grade11 and St Peter’s Parish Church (13th c), listed Grade 1. The village was a Saxon settlement, first recorded in Domesday Book in 1086 and is considered to have great archaeological significance. Westleigh has had a long historic association with Tapeley Park. The estate has owned much of the village and surrounding lands since the time of Henry Vlll.
Westleigh is set within a rural landscape, bordered by the Torridge River and estuary, Tapeley Park, woodlands, fields and farmlands. By virtue of its history, the estuary and conservation status, much of the area has been unchanged and unspoiled for generations. There is no record of any recently commissioned wildlife survey, but regular sightings of bats and an abundance of birds and small mammals is evident, including birds of prey, owls, brown hare, hedgehog and stoat. Tapeley Park promotes sustainable living and organic gardening. It has a permaculture garden and wild garden to support wildlife. Roosts of lesser horseshoe bats and brown long eared bats have been identified there.
Recently, Westleigh, Tapeley Park and the Torridge Estuary have been recognised by Taw/Torridge Landscape Character Appraisal and the Seascape Character Assessment as being areas with special qualities and high value. These qualities were identified as “open feeling and expansive views, wildness and tranquility, high scenic value, sensory characteristics (sights, sounds and smells of the estuary) and cultural associations.
It is the intention of this policy to recognise these special qualities and endeavour to protect the built and natural environment, which they represent.
Protect and enhance landscape (conservation status, etc)
Protect and enhance, where practicable, biodiversity (habitats)
Protect and enhance fauna and flora
Recognise and protect cultural heritage (architectural and archeological heritage)
Protect natural resources (dark skies/tranquility/sounds and smells of the estuary)
Promote and encourage sustainable practices in the community
Comply with all relevant local, national and international environmental legislation that impinges on our activities.
Encourage adherence by all to guidance for the protection of our wildlife and conservation area.
Environment and Conservation Policy Statement
Westleigh Parish Council is committed to promoting, protecting and maintaining the quality of our built and natural environment. We are prepared to take responsibility for our actions and have a sense of duty and care for the world in which we live.
It will consider sustainability, environmental impact and biodiversity when commenting on planning applications.
It will consider the issues of water use, run off and water pollution and inform authorities/ district/ county councillors where necessary.
These issues will be considered when making planning recommendations.
Purchasing and Contracts
It will endeavour to purchase goods and materials from sustainable sources and encourage suppliers/contractors to operate in an environmentally appropriate way.
It will conserve energy and encourage the community, suppliers and contractors to do the same.
It will ensure that waste is recycled where practical and support recycling in the community, through green bin collections and use of council facilities.
It will promote awareness of wildlife conservation and seek to protect wildlife habitats. It acknowledges the importance of all species to biodiversity, including those commonly present.
It will endeavour to work with its neighbours to promote sustainable practices in the community. (Christie Estates, local farmers etc)
The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, Part 3
Section 40: Duty to conserve biodiversity states that every public authority must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as it is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity.
40 (3) Conserving biodiversity includes, in relation to a living organism or type of habitat, restoring or enhancing a population or habitat.
Section 5a, defines a parish council as being part of the local authority with responsibilities under the act.