The Brighton & Hove Local Biodiversity Action Plan is the background of the city’s important habitats and species. It forms the basis for work under the Environment Act 2021, such as developing a Local Nature Strategy/ Nature Recovery Network in partnership with a wide range of local organisations, mapping habitats and green spaces, and introducing measurable Biodiversity Net Gain planning guidance.
The council continues to replace and extend tree cover in Brighton & Hove, whilst diversifying woodland to ensure the long-term sustainability of the city’s tree stock (including a strategy to manage ash die-back) and maximise opportunities to increase biodiversity. In 2021/2022, 425 trees and 2,530 whips were planted. The Carbon Neutral. Funding will enable the planting of 200-300 street trees and between 800 and 150,000 parkland and woodland trees. (The reason for the breadth of range reflects the disparity in costs between planting a street tree, a standard tree in a park or grassed area and a tree whip).
The council is undertaking a three-year verge management pilot of reduced mowing for small, grass areas in order for them to be managed as natural green spaces to encourage biodiversity and nature.
Wilding Waterhall is working to ‘wild’ a former Brighton & Hove City Council Golf Course, to restore fragile chalk grassland and improve habitats for multiple species whilst offering a unique opportunity for local residents and visitors to learn more about our internationally important local environment.
This project is being led by Brighton & Hove City Council working closely with many local groups such as The Friends of Waterhall. Wilding Waterhall is part of a bigger project across the South Downs called Changing Chalk, and has recently been awarded National Lottery funding to deliver the project over the next 4 years. Wilding Waterhall is working with local volunteers to survey the site to create a biodiversity baseline. This will support site monitoring in the future by showing what positive or negative biodiversity impacts are caused by changes in management technique.
City Downland Estate Plan (CDEP)
The City Downland Estate is owned by the council and farmed by tenant farmers. The council is creating a 10-year action plan, the City Downland Estate Plan. The vision of the draft CDEP is for
“A rejuvenated City Downland Estate [that] will be carbon negative and climate resilient, its biodiverse grassland landscape fully restored and teeming with wildlife. The estate will be a leader in sustainable farming, where local food production will flourish…”
Two key objectives are to reverse the loss of biodiversity on the estate, and to work towards (and beyond) carbon net zero.
In 2021 to 2022 a comprehensive public consultation was completed including a leaflet drop to every home in the city and online consultation events. The draft CDEP vision was agreed with Members and presented to the Downland Advisory Panel, the Asset Member Board and SDNPA members. Further consultation with the public and SDNPA members, with the presentation of the final CDEP to Policy and Resources committee (end of 2022) and to SDNPA for endorsement (early 2023).
The council works closely with our tenant farmers, many of which are in environmental stewardship, encouraging good farming practice contributing to the council’s carbon neutral target, in addition to improving biodiversity and ground water quality. The council has worked over the years with the South Downs National Park, Natural England, Southern Water, the University of Brighton, the Environment Agency, and other organisations, farmers and stakeholders in groundwater projects, particularly The Aquifer Partnership, seeking to reduce nitrate and ammonia inputs and encourage sustainable farming practices.
Soil health and carbon sequestration
The council continues to explore measures for protecting and enhancing biodiversity, working towards restoring depleted soils, species-rich chalk grassland landscapes and natural farming methods, alongside carbon capture and carbon neutrality.
In 2021 a soil assessment on our City Downland Estate farms was undertaken by Farm Carbon Toolkit. The study included soil sampling to evaluate current carbon stocks and soil health status and potential to improve soil carbon sequestration.
Alongside this, the council is working to reduce chemical inputs into the environment and has already phased out pesticide use on all public land looked after by our environment and housing teams, except for high-risk invasive species with no effective alternative.
The Living Coast
The Living Coast Biosphere brings partners together from across the region to enable sustainable and innovative socio-economic development, with a focus on restoring and enhancing the resilience of our natural environment, nature connection and awareness. The natural environment provides all the resources required for all life to thrive and is the springboard for all human development. Over the next two years the Biosphere partnership will continue to deliver the Biosphere programme of sustainability actions as well as preparing our formal application to UNESCO to be redesignated as a World Biosphere Region in 2024.
BioCultural Heritage Tourism Project
The EU Interreg funded BioCultural Heritage Tourism Project led by Visit Brighton developed responsible tourism opportunities around natural and cultural resources whilst reducing the impact tourism has on the environment. The project ran from 2018 to December 2021 and worked with regional partners to develop new responsible and experiential tourism offers to connect visitors with our world class natural environment. It also developed business resources such as planning tools, a sustainable business toolkit and marketing materials,
The Living Coast by Bike
The Living Coast by Bike was developed with partners So Sussex as part of the BioCultural Heritage Tourism project. The Living Coast by Bike encourages residents and visitors to the region explore our world class natural environment more responsibly by creating new cycle routes that all connect to train stations, as well as reducing carbon emissions from transport. The website includes downloadable GPS route maps so cyclists can always be confident they know where they are and where they’re going!
The Living Coast Arts programme
The first Living Coast Artists Residency was hosted by Fabrica Gallery. This residency supported local artist Anna Dumitriu to explore the scientific, economic and social history of seaweed and how this resonates locally through people, places and The Living Coast goals. In October the council launched ‘Home’, a collection of new sculptures by artist David Watson with ONCA and Schools Without Walls to celebrate our Marine Conservation Zone Beachy Head West. David worked with pupils from three East Brighton schools to imagine what ‘home’ means for the more-than-human residents of the Marine Conservation Zone. The sculptures were developed from waste including salvaged aeroplane wheels and will be on the Undercliff Walk east of Brighton Marina until 2023.
Brighton & Hove City Council has made a commitment to work towards a healthier, more sustainable food system; one which reduces food poverty, supports local food businesses and reduces the environmental impact of the way in which we produce, consume and dispose of our food.
The council has an extensive programme of sustainable food actions together with the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership (BHFP). The aim is to support a collaborative and city-wide effort to create a healthy, sustainable, and fair food system, and to use food to bring together community, farming and environmental interests on land management. In 2022, Brighton & Hove City Council signed the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration as part of our commitment to integrate food system policy with the climate and biodiversity crisis.
In 2020 the city received a Gold Sustainable Food City award, led by BHFP. A wide range of activities took place in 2021-22, with our strong networks of organisations collaborating in the city-wide effort, building on the award with campaigns for a more plant-based diet, less single-use plastics, reducing food waste and increasing local food growing, and tackling food poverty. Brighton & Hove Food Strategy Action Plan 2018 to 2023 combines the ecological transition with social justice.
In September 2021, city-wide activities for Brighton & Hove day of action on food and climate took place, and in March 2022, the council, Brighton & Hove Food Partnership and Circular Brighton & Hove promoted Food Waste Action Week.
Brighton & Hove City Council’s Good Food Standards, updated in April 2021, are the council’s standards for purchasing food and catering services. They are applied to all future food and catering contracts and concessions. Property and estates, nurseries, schools and events are providing monitoring information. Opportunities for the ‘Dynamic Procurement of food’ are being explored and funding applied for.
In July 2021 the Greater Brighton Economic Board approved scoping work to investigate existing policy and partnerships in the Greater Brighton city region and offer the basis of a Greater Brighton Food Plan and a clear approach to collaborative work. The findings of the scoping report and recommendations will be presented to the Greater Brighton Board in July 2022.
Food growing planning advice
In 2020 a Planning Advice Note on Food Growing in new developments was updated. Monitoring for 2020/2021 showed 50% of major planning applications for residential developments indicated there will be food-growing in the development.
Esmee Fairbairn Foundation land bid
Brighton & Hove Food Partnership were successful with their funding application for a ‘Demonstration project for landscape scale nature friendly agriculture on the chalk grassland surrounding Brighton & Hove, alongside the partnerships, engagement & wider food systems work that will underpin success’. This work links to the City Downland Estate Plan and will focus on carbon capturing regenerative agriculture and decarbonised food supply chains.
Circular Economy Food Programme
The Circular Economy Food Programme identifies actions to progress circular food activities and to create a healthy, sustainable, and fair food system in Brighton & Hove. Collaborations have formed going beyond food waste reduction, building a local supply chain based on regenerative farming and community resilience.
Surveys undertaken by Brighton & Hove Food Partnership of users and volunteers at community projects show food waste is an issue that matters to residents. Taking a preventative approach to avoid food being wasted was the single most important action raised at Circular Economy workshops held in 2021. BHFP led Community Composting, Surplus Food Network and Flavour projects are the pioneers in this work. Food Waste Champions are being recruited to support behaviour change across the community.
The Surplus Food Network is an alliance of organisations tackling food waste by working with suppliers to distribute surplus to people in need in Brighton, Hove and surrounding areas. Membership of the network includes FareShare Sussex, the Real Junk Food Project Brighton, Sussex Homeless Support, the Sussex Gleaning Network, UKHarvest and is coordinated by Brighton & Hove Food Partnership. The Network saved 1,309 tonnes of food from being wasted in 2021, feeding 5,870 people a week and saving 3,796 tonnes of Co2 emissions
Sussex Surplus is a pilot social enterprise from the charity Feedback taking fresh and surplus food in danger of being wasted and transforming it into long-life products and tasty meals that can then be sold wholesale to independent shops.
Food Use Places
A successful bid to the National Lottery Climate Action Fund supports the Food Use Places project beginning in April 2022 in 10 community locations in Brighton. The vision of Food Use Places is to become champions of food use rather than places that manage food waste. It brings together circular economy and community development approaches to reduce food and packaging waste and increase composting. BHFP will be measuring change using the Food Use Hierarchy, prioritising work that reduces waste.
Other work includes: