Six new Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation proposed for Kingston
Following an independent review of the borough’s Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) last year, six additional wildlife areas have been formally recommended to receive SINC status.
In July 2020 Kingston Council commissioned Land Use Consultants (LUC) to undertake an independent review of the borough’s SINCs.
The review was initially guided by a local engagement exercise with community groups and ecological experts who helped put forward various sites for consideration for SINC status.
SINCs are non-statutory sites that are designated due to their importance for nature conservation. A number of wildlife areas across Kingston borough are already recognised as SINCs forming vital components of the ecological network and green corridor in the borough.
The proposed new SINCs will bring the total of sites across the borough to 45:
- Alexandra Millennium Green
- Beverley Park and Beverley Park Allotments (combined as one SINC)
- Hogsmill Community Garden
- Knollmead Allotments
- Mansfield Park
- Alric Avenue Allotments
Further recommendations were made to upgrade the status and/or extend the boundaries of a number of existing SINCs, including changing Tolworth Court Farm to a Site of Metropolitan Importance, and Kingston Cemetery to a Site of Borough Importance.
The review also identified four sites that are at risk of downgrade (potentially losing their SINC status) in the future due to a decline in ecological value: Coombe Wood Golf Course, Seething Wells Filter Bed, The Leyfield and Jubilee Meadows.
The council will continue to engage with the landowners of these SINCs to encourage the positive management of these sites to improve their ecological value and ability to support biodiversity, and protect their SINC status. However the council’s actions are limited to encouraging and advising landowners to look after their sites - we are unable to enforce action.
Councillor Rebekah Moll, Portfolio Holder for Planning said:
“This SINC review is a great evidence base piece as part of the preparation of the borough’s Local Plan. It will help ensure our most important wildlife sites are protected and enhance sites for the future, so that our community can enjoy them for years to come.
Officers can now use this evidence to help draft the new Local Plan and protect our local biodiversity in planning decisions.”
Councillor Hilary Gander, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Sustainable Transport said:
“We very much welcome the findings from the LUC Review. The recommendation for six new SINC designations will help raise awareness of the importance for wildlife and biodiversity in these areas, particularly with regard to planning and land management decisions. We can now ensure that these sites are protected for generations to come.
“Our SINCs are an important component of our wider nature network and these findings will play a major role in shaping the important next steps we take to create resilient habitats, boost biodiversity, and ensure people and wildlife can thrive alongside one another.”
LUC’s recommendations will now be validated by a local Site Selection Panel (consisting of statutory agencies, non-governmental organisations, borough officers, and local nature representatives) before any changes to SINCs are carried forward into the preparation of the draft new Local Plan.
The findings from the review will be shared with Kingston Council’s new Biodiversity Partnership, made up of local experts (dedicated naturalists, conservationists and community groups). The Partnership will help guide and inform the council’s new Biodiversity Action Plan launching later this year.
Read the full LUC review on this webpage.