News that forthcoming multi-million-pound sea defence work across the Island will be built to exceptionally high environmental standards has been welcomed by MP Bob Seely.
The Environment Agency has confirmed its forthcoming projects in partnership with the IW Council at Bembridge, Yaverland, Shanklin and Ventnor will be built to incorporate 20 per cent biodiversity net gain.
Net gain means that development must leave biodiversity in a measurably better state than before. The EA is looking to ensure that net gain is 20 per cent – a higher target than is currently set out in the forthcoming draft Environment Bill, which reflects the Island’s biosphere designation and the growing desire of the EA to deliver schemes that enhance the environment as well as performing a coastal defence role.
Mr Seely asked the EA to apply the principles of net gain after an approach from local company Wight Building Materials.
Bob said the confirmation of 20 per cent net gain this week from Environment Minister Rebecca Pow was good news for the environment and the Island’s economy.
In her letter the Minister highlighted the work in this field by Sandown-based Artecology and also praised Wight Building Materials’ ‘pro-active’ approach in raising the net gain issue through the MP.
Mr Seely said: “This really is fantastic news for the Island on a number of fronts. We will be leading the way in terms of being a beacon for sustainable development and I very much hope that opens the door for local companies.
“We have considerable expertise in this area and just as importantly, we have go-getting businesses that are always looking to innovate and to do the right thing.”
Steve Burton, General Manager of Wight Building Materials said: “This is a really positive announcement by DEFRA and the EA and I would like to thank Bob for taking up the issue on behalf of the Island’s business community. This is an exciting opportunity for all those businesses who act responsibly and in tune with the local environment.”
In her letter the Minister said: “Given the Isle of Wight’s UNESCO biosphere status, and the EA’s own ambitions to ‘create a better place’ and become a net zero organisation by 2030, the importance of designing sustainable solutions is at the forefront of planning. This is second only to the EA’s objective of providing cost effective and deliverable coastal erosion and flood risk interventions that protect properties, infrastructure and life.”
Nigel George of Artecology said: “For us all at Artecology, and parent company Arc Biodiversity & Climate, creating net gain for biodiversity and shaping better places for wildlife and people are the motivation for what we do. The opportunity to collaborate with local ‘eco-aware’ firms to do just that on our own doorstep in the Isle of Wight World Biodiversity Reserve is a very exciting prospect indeed.”
Emily Gordon, Environment Agency Programme Manager said: “The Environment Agency is committed to protecting properties, infrastructure and designated habitat whilst providing cost effective coastal erosion and flood risk measures. Our early commitment to a 20% net gain for these schemes will help us improve habitat for both people and wildlife for future generations”.