Agenda item

Oxfordshire's current affairs update

Members of the Board to update one another on key matters of importance relevant to the Local Nature Partnership arising since the previous meeting, including feedback from the Future Oxfordshire Partnership process.


The Chair invited members of the Board to raise any matters of note, interest or concern at a local or national level which might impact on Oxfordshire’s natural environment of the LNP.


Tim Field reported back on a study of flood plain restoration in the Windrush Valley and the positive impacts of flood plain restoration for carbon reduction and botanical diversity. Next steps included exploring options for facilitation funding.


Prue Addison spoke to the work of the Flood Plain Meadows Partnership which was supported by a number of partners including BBOWT. The Meadows for the Climate Project had been way supported by Ecover to work with local farmers to restore a section of the Thames Vally flood plan. This was in its final year and reports would be published in due course on the carbon storage possibilities of flood meadow in comparison to regular fields. A survey of the flood plain at Chimney Meadows would form part of this.


Prue also commented that Matthew Stanton would be taking over from her at the end of the year as interim Conservation Strategy Director of BBOWT at the commencement of her maternity leave.


Simon Smith provided an update on the Nature Recovery Plan for the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, (AONB) which had just been published and nationally, HM Government’s response to the Glover report on National Parks and AONBs. This was expected to include a strengthened duty to further the purposes of designation and this and other measures had the aim of enabling protected landscapes to play a greater role in nature recovery.


The Chair commented that given the recent policy announcements by HM Government the Board should return to the issue of the target to preserve and protect 30% of the planets land and sea by 2030 at its next meeting


Councillor David Rouane commented that as with Local Plans, the corporate plans of local authorities were key strategic documents that the LNP might wish to engage with and influence. Corporate Plans set out the key policy and political objectives of an administration and the link between those objectives and spending priorities.


Nationally, local authorities were expecting to be informed of the indicative level of central government funding per authority by the end of December 2023. This would inform their budget setting processes for 2024 against a nationally very challenging and constraining overall financial situation for local government.


Camilla Burrow referred to the launch of the Our Planet: Our Business

film which amongst its content included the top five steps that businesses could take to action to address the planet’s environmental crisis. She  also referred to the Witney Wind landscape project and to the establishment of farmer cluster in Witney to enable the sharing of information and joint working.


Professor David Macdonald provided an update on HM Government’s continuation of Badger culling which was now taking place within Oxfordshire with the stated objective of controlling TB in cattle. He commented that he had written a briefing on this ethically and technically complicated issue for the Badger Trust which he was seeking permission to share to OLNP Board members.