Exeter Valley Parks and Green Infrastructure

A ceremony has been held by Exeter City Council at Ludwell Valley Park to mark the signing of a  ‘green farming' funding agreement with Natural England.

The funding is being provided through the Natural England's Environmental Stewardship Scheme. This is a ten year agreement and will provide Exeter City Council with approximately £250,000 to help them manage, enhance and improve Exeter's Valley Parks.

 The Valley Parks, which include Ludwell, Riverside and Mincinglake, provide high quality countryside areas and wildlife habitats on the doorstep of the city's residents.  Described as "the green lungs of the city", they are regularly used by residents for exercise, to walk their dogs, to get close to wildlife or just to unwind.  They provide an NHS - Nature's Health Service - improving  the well-being of those who use them.

This new funding agreement is also seen as a substantial first step in the delivery of the Exeter Area and East Devon Green Infrastructure Strategy.  The Strategy aims to improve, enhance and create a connected network of high quality green spaces, like the Valley Parks, in the city and within new developments such as Cranbrook in East Devon.

Neil Blackmore, Exeter and East Devon Growth Point's Landscape Architect said "This type of higher level stewardship is crucial to  help landowners manage and enhance open green spaces like the Valley Parks.  You only have to listen to the residents who are here at the ceremony today to understand what this space means to them; some of their families have been enjoying this open space for generations. As our city grows, it is clear that the delivery of the Green Infrastructure Strategy is vital if residents and wildlife are to co-exist and benefit from these natural green spaces."

During the ceremony, Matt Carter Natural England's Area Manager for Devon and Cornwall described Exeter's Valley Parks as "wonderful examples of  natural urban spaces" he added "I can't over emphasis the importance of these areas to residents, they can make a real difference to peoples' physical and mental wellbeing".  

Planned improvements will  greatly benefit a range of wildlife, such as the creation of new habitat for one of England's rarest birds the Cirl bunting. Part of the funding will be allocated to create bird seed crops, flower-rich grasslands and well managed hedgerows that provide winter and summer food for these special birds.

In many cases green infrastructure can be credited with helping to attract, create and safeguard new jobs and start-up businesses, by offering a more attractive setting to prospective businesses.

Communications Officer

Lesley Crocker, T: 01395 571744, M: 07545419360

lcrocker@eastdevon.gov.uk

 

Notes to editors

Exeter and East Devon New Growth Point

 

For more information about Exeter and East Devon:

http://www.exeterandeastdevon.gov.uk/

 

New Growth Points

 

A New Growth Point is a Partnership initiative between the Government and local authorities wishing to pursue large scale sustainable growth.

Exeter and East Devon New Growth Point is a partnership commitment between Devon County Council, Exeter City Council, East Devon District Council, The South West Regional Development Agency, the Homes and Communities Agency and the Government to deliver sustainable economic growth.  Exeter and East Devon was recognised by the Government as a New Growth Point in 2006. 

Further information about New Growth Points and Partnership for Growth with the Government, can be found at:

www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/newgrowthpoints

Exeter lies at the northern edge of the cirl bunting breeding range in the UK.  The cirl bunting has been the subject of a conservation partnership between Natural England and the RSPB since 1994, promoting and supporting farming practices to encourage cirl buntings.  The population has recovered from a low of  just 188 pairs in 1989, to 862 pairs in 2009, all in south Devon and Cornwall.  

Higher Level Stewardship (HLS), 

Higher Level Stewardship (HLS), the upper tier of the suite of Environmental Stewardship schemes, aims to deliver significant environmental benefits in high priority areas. A wide range of management options are available, targeted to support key characteristics of different areas. The HLS scheme is supported by a network of Natural England advisers that assist farming businesses with advice across the region. More information on HLS can be found at: http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/planning/grants-funding/es/hls/targeting/default.aspx

Natural England works for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas. It conserves and enhances the natural environment for its intrinsic value, the wellbeing and enjoyment of people, and the economic prosperity it brings. For more information visit; http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/

Exeter Valley Parks

Exeter City Council manages five Valley Parks around the city. These are, largely, natural open spaces where habitats and wildlife are cared for and enhanced. For large numbers of Exonians the Valley Parks are, quite  literally, on their doorsteps and provide extensive areas for walking, relaxing and enjoying the natural environment.