Cllr Steve Bell is the Leader of the Conservative Group on Brighton and Hove Council.
Conservation has always been at the very heart of Conservatism. Conservatives value cultural traditions and wish to leave them undiminished to our children. Conservationists value heritage.
While the left look to big government as the decision-makers set to save us from environmental catastrophe, as Conservatives we prefer a local approach over large-scale governmental approaches. Love of your home, love of your ward, and encouraging that love in your residents.
Conservative Councillors on Brighton & Hove City Council have been putting these values into action and making progress on our Conservative vision to both protect and improve the ecology of the City.
In a national-first, Cllr Robert Nemeth has ensured that Brighton & Hove City Council includes a requirement for developers to include bee bricks as part of every new development.
Bee bricks form part of the structure of the building like any other building brick but have holes for solitary and hibernating bees. They are promoted by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds as a way to ensure nature can survive in City environments.
Thanks to the work of Cllr Nemeth, bee bricks are now recommended on all major applications and preferred in houses and extensions in Brighton and Hove.
He took two different types of swift brick along to the council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee at Hove Town Hall in March. One is a simple plastic box that is built into a wall. The other uses bricks from the wall so that it blends in and is also warmer.
A swift box is harder to block up as people can see the box and won’t fill it up. As long as people are putting up swift boxes and bricks then it’s a win for wildlife in the city. Residents can help this effort by planting bee friendly plants and other ecology in their own gardens.
Following on from our work on bee bricks, Conservatives want to ensure that the Council draw up a wider mandatory list of items for inclusion in new developments that will help protect our local wildlife – such as hedgehog holes, bird feeders and bat boxes.
Bats, in particular are a particularly important indicator of the City’s ecology.
As Glenn Norris of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, wrote in the October edition of the Hovarian Magazine, the presence of bats indicate healthy invertebrate-rich habitats. He said:
“In Hove, bats are most likely to be seen in the few remaining green spaces: Hove Park, Hove Cemetery and Benfield Valley Nature Reserve.
“The bats found in Hove are probably the aerobatic common pipistrelle and heavy-duty noctule as these bats are tolerant of artificial lighting from streetlights and have even adapted to feeding on the moths and insects that have been attracted by the artificial glow.
“During the day these bats are most likely roosting in the roof voids of buildings, cracks in mortar and under loose tiles. Pipistrelles are so small they can fit in a hole the size of your thumb.”
Cllr Dawn Barnett, who has been at the forefront of our Conservative Campaign to save Benfield Valley from development, has said that the presence of these bats shows precisely why Benfield Valley needs to be protected. The bats show definitively the ecological value of the Valley and why it is so important that Benfield Valley continues to exist as a green wedge in the city.
In Patcham and Hollingbury, our Conservative Councillors have successfully put forward a proposal to plant 8,000 trees next to Carden Park in Brighton in a bid to create a new forest. The wood, next to Hollingbury Industrial Estate would contain a “bee bank” and chalk grassland managed by Brighton and Hove City Council officers.
Cllr Lee Wares, who represents Patcham, has said that this significant project would result in the largest woodland planted from scratch being undertaken in the city for decades. The ability to plant so many trees and provide the conditions and habitat for flora and fauna across the whole site will create an area of biodiversity we all want to see.
This also provides an opportunity to bring the natural environment right into the middle of our built environment that will be accessible to everybody.
A new wood would transform low-quality grassland into a rich world of flora and fauna.
The plan is to have walkways mown between the trees and bee banks so that everybody can be right in the middle of nature. Wares has recently reported that an initial area for this tree planting project will soon be planted.
The Conservatives are delivering innovative conservation outcomes for the City, building on our vision to improve the ecology of the city and working with residents to protect green spaces.
Look to your Conservative councillors if you wish to conserve your environment and city. And remember, conservation is conservative.