SBF Local Working Group 16th May 2006 Minutes Present: Vicky Abernethy(Chair), Petrina Brown, Maida Ballarini, Ro Scott, Sam Gardner, Margo Petrie, Zeshan Akhter, Fran Leslie. Apologies: Mike Davidson, and Paul Kirkland. Welcome Vicky Abernethy welcomed everyone to the meeting and confirmed that Ro Scott had agreed to act as interim Chair whilst she is on maternity leave, June – December 2006. It was agreed that Ro Scott will stand in on the first instance and a rotation of other members has been suggested thereafter. Actions arising from the minutes of the previous meeting: Action:Vicky had written to Jane Dalgleish to advise her of the change in Chairs for the group. Action discharged. Action: Nadine Russell has now agreed to sit on the Marine working group. This means that there are LBAP Officers on each group. Action discharged. Action: RS to circulate SBF SLBAPO job description – ZA to circulate. Action: ZA to produce report on progress with implementing actions in local plan. Report produced from BARS for this meeting. Discharged. Matters arising: A discussion took place on planning guidance on biodiversity for local authorities. It was noted that SNH was collaborating with the Association of Local Government Ecologists to develop a planning toolkit for biodiversity. Ro explained that SNH planners were experiencing heavy casework workloads and a decision had been taken by SNH to try and alleviate this pressure by focusing on casework to do with statutory sites and assist with wider planning applications where this was unavoidable. The biodiversity toolkit was seen as a way of helping to offset this reduced assistance from SNH. It was noted that LBAP Officers are increasingly being consulted by Planners on biodiversity aspects of planning applications. However, it was highlighted that LBAP Officers are not Ecologists and that they are struggling with providing advice to planners. The toolkit, whilst an interesting and potentially helpful development, was not seen as a replacement for Ecology Officers. Action: Scottish Executive asked to provide update on planning training on biodiversity. MP to take back to SE. Action: ZA to discuss toolkit with Brigid and Fiona Rice and highlight difficulties LBAP Officers experience with respect to being expected to give advice that only qualified ecologists could give. Action: Vicky to raise need for ecologists in local authorities at next SBC meeting. Action: The role of the Scottish Executive biodiversity team requires clarification. Action: RS to send ZA article on SNH funding for LBAP posts for LBAP newsletter. SBC 22nd February Minutes: A discussion took place on the Scottish List and Forestry Commission and SEPA gave a very strong opinion that further guidance is needed in order for organisations to be able use the list in a practical way. A further discussion took place on the purpose of the Species Framework and it relation to the Scottish List. Ro Scott explained that the two lists had been developed in parallel but not together. The Framework had followed on from the failure to gain SE approval for the proposed beaver introduction – this failure had identified a need for targeted action on key species. These key species were identified as part in the Species Framework. Action: SG to send consultation response to SNH on Species Framework to this group. LBAP Conference: ZA gave an update on the conference which had been well attended (over 80 delegates) although only a few LBAP Officers had attended. The UNISON strike had contributed to the low turnout of LBAP Officers. The national updates had been well received. The importance of good communication between Lead Partners and LBAPOs was raised. ZA explained that part of the original agenda had included a slot on good practice communication between Lead Partners and LBAPOs but that this item had to be dropped from the programme due when approaches to Lead Partners and LBAP network failed to produce examples of good practice communication. A discussion followed on this subject and it was highlighted that it was important to try and get engagement from Chairs of the other working groups and also from the Chairs of the LBAP steering groups. A suggestion was made that it may help to convene an internal SNH group of Lead Partners. Action: RS to consider whether an internal group of SNH Lead Partners feasible. Action: ZA to discuss with Debbie Bassett and report back at next meeting. Draft Local Authority Monitoring: VA highlighted that questions need to be asked of local authorities in order to raise awareness of the Biodiversity Duty. Vicky referred to a questionnaire that she circulated to the group called “Draft local authority monitoring” which listed a series of questions which could be asked of local authorities to determine how they are implementing the Duty. Vicky explained that although not all duties are monitored, the Biodiversity Duty is one which she thinks does need to be monitored. A discussion followed and MP explained that there is a link to Audit Scotland’s monitoring of local authorities through Best Value. VA pointed out that Best Value could only ask one or two questions and that it only provided qualitative and not quantitative information. A discussion followed on mechanisms that could be used to ask local authorities on how they had implemented the Duty. It was agreed that local authority motivation to perform in different areas is driven by their positions in league-tables. It was also agreed that it was not fair to only ask local authorities questions on the Duty as the LBAP partnerships are made up of many organisations. It was suggested that the Local group should prompt Scottish Executive to lead on promoting the Duty to local authorities. Action: Vicky to email the questionnaire to Judith Young. Action: Any comments on the questionnaire should be sent to VA. BIT Update: The Administration of BAGS has been given to the BIT. The notice announcing the second round of BAGS grants went up on the SE website in March and also on the biodiversity Scotland website. A notice was also sent to everyone on the SBF mailing list. The deadline for applications was 11 th April. A panel had been set up, which included Sam Gardner, to assess the applications and this assessment had taken place. Not many applications were received from LBAPs. Action: ZA to ask LBAP Officers why they are not applying for BAGs grants & troubleshoot. Work Programme: The work programme was discussed. Action: ZA to update BARS as necessary. Next meeting to be held at RSPB SHQ. Date to be agreed by email.