Partners gather for launch of local nature recovery project

Launching Purple Horizons are (from left) Kristie Charlesworth (LDC), Marian Spain (Natural England), Councillor Angela Lax (LDC, and Emma Johnson (Natural England).
At the launch of Purple Horizons are (from left) Kristie Charlesworth (LDC), Marian Spain (Natural England), Councillor Angela Lax (LDC) and Emma Johnson (Natural England).

We are backing a new environmental project aimed at tackling wildlife loss and improving access to nature in the West Midlands.

Purple Horizons will restore heathland and link it with wetland, woodland and grassland across an area of up to 10,000 hectares including Cannock Chase and Sutton Park, working with landowners to create habitats for wildlife and carbon storage.

The scheme, which was launched recently at Brownhills Common, will enable more than 500,000 people in the region to connect with nature close to where they live and is one of five nature recovery projects in England that have been announced by the Government and Natural England, the Government’s advisor on the natural environment.

Lichfield District Council is among the partners driving Purple Horizons which is being funded through a share of a £2.4 million pot from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Natural England.

Kristie Charlesworth, Ecology Officer at Lichfield District Council, said:

“Heathland is good for lots of protected and priority species. Ground-nesting birds such as the nightjar like heathland as do invertebrates and reptiles.

“We were the first council in the country to make a policy demanding that all development must deliver a 20 per cent net gain to biodiversity as part of seeking planning permission.

“If developers cannot deliver that net gain onsite, they either create or enhance areas of habitat elsewhere in the district or provide the council with a suitable financial contribution for us to deliver that habitat on their behalf.”

Councillor Angela Lax, Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Ecology and Climate Change, said:

“I was delighted to attend the launch of the Purple Horizons project.

“Its work to restore heathland will create sustainable habitats for wildlife while making these areas more accessible to residents, improving both mental and physical health.

“It will also contribute to our collective efforts to tackle climate change and look forward to seeing the project progress.”

For more information watch a video about Purple Horizons.

Published: 7 June 2022