3.6 Natural Environment

Clifton Village has much to cherish in its nature conservation assets. It is a village in a semi-rural setting, and the presence of wildlife is a notable feature both within and around the village. Many of Clifton, Thornhills and Brighouse residents take joy from their day to day contact with the diverse wildlife within the Clifton village area.

3.6.1        Clifton Initial Assessment- Ecology

 

West Yorkshire Ecology holds recent records of species sighted in and around Clifton and forms the basis of the CVNF policies that seek to protect and enhance biodiversity within planning decisions. 

The open space within and around Clifton village is greenbelt countryside with a patchwork mix of mainly dairy and sheep farmland with alternating livestock grazing and hay meadow production. Around the village equine grazing occurs in small areas and there is a mix of drystone walls, native hedge, improved grassland, semi-improved grassland, unimproved grassland, lowland broadleaf woodland, springs and flushes, and wetland in the form of ponds and ditches.

 

1.1.2        UK BAP Broad/ Priority Habitats

 

1.1.2.1       Boundary & Linear features /Hedgerows

 

Native mixed hedgerows occur in several parts of the greenbelt, particularly along Thornhills Lane, Thornhills Beck Lane, Jayhouse Lane, The Clough and Highmoor lane. There are also examples within the proposed enterprise zone along Wakefield Road, along America Lane and patchily bordering many of the fields on the common. These provide an invaluable habitat for a wide range of plant, insect, bird (resident and winter visiting) and mammal species.

1.1.2.2       Rivers and Streams

 

A small header stream occurs within the north of the village and flows westwards to Clifton Beck. Another small stream/flush area occurs and flows eastwards under Highmoor Lane towards the golf course. An area of flush and bog occurs just south of America Lane running down towards Wakefield Road. These linear areas contain wetland plant and invertebrate species.

The Clifton Beck runs along the western boundary and supports a wide variety of plant, animal and bird species.

1.1.2.3       Standing Open Water and Canals/Ponds

 

A large pond occurs within the North West area near the disused railway line, which has significant wildlife value. Smaller ponds occur along Thornhills Lane, within the village and dozens on the golf course. These ponds contain assemblages of one to four species of amphibians, a wide range of invertebrates and small numbers of waterfowl.

1.1.2.4       Acid Grassland/Lowland Acid Grassland

 

Acid grassland is prevalent on the south facing slopes within the northern edge as well as areas towards the south west. This grassland supports a diverse range of invertebrate and bird species.

1.1.2.5       Neutral Grassland/Lowland Meadows

 

Species rich meadows still occur as patchwork amongst improved grassland, particularly to the north of the village. This grassland also supports a diverse range of invertebrate and bird species. Within the proposed enterprise zone, the patchwork of fields is mainly neutral unimproved grassland and, although heavily grazed, are potentially species rich.

 

1.1.2.6       Improved Grassland

 

Improved grassland is common to the north of the village. Although species poor, these areas are still important feeding and nesting sites for a wide range of resident and winter visiting bird species.

1.1.2.7       Broadleaf, Mixed & Yew Woodland – Lowland Mixed Deciduous Woodland

 

Lowland mixed deciduous woodland wraps along the top of the Wellholme park, along Clifton common and joins up with Clifton woods and is a crucial wildlife corridor for many species.  More isolated woodland occurs in other areas close to the village. These are part of a larger network of nearby woodland such as Whitaker Pits Wood, Bailiff Woods and Oak Hill Woods, (Wellholme Park) and the linear woodland adjacent to Wakefield Road, joining Clifton Woods to the south.  All these woods support a large variety of plant, insect, mammal and bird species.

Amongst this diverse patchwork of habitats, there is a wide range of plant, invertebrate, amphibian, mammal and bird species. The following is a selection of species known to occur (records held with West Yorkshire Ecology) within the site that have some local, regional or national importance. Some are resident and some visit at particular times of the year. This site is under recorded, and the number of species is likely to increase.

1.1.3        Species

 

1.1.3.1       Schedule 1 Bird Species

 

There are four species of bird, two resident and two winter visitors. A fifth species is known to have been present in the past but is unconfirmed recently.

1.1.3.2       Schedule 5 Animal Species

 

There are at least three species of bat that are known to occur within the village and surrounding area. Two are widespread and one occurs along the western edge. Four, possibly five, species of amphibian occur. The great crested newt occurs outside the boundary to the north at Bailiff Bridge, and to the east at Liversedge and potentially within the boundary of Clifton Village. A potential corridor could occur through the village for this species.

 

1.1.4        Protection of Badgers Act 1992

 

A set occurs outside of the boundary to the north and another outside the boundary to the south. The site itself has a recording of badger presence and offers a foraging ground and potential corridor between the adjacent sets.

1.1.5        UK BAP Priority species

 

1.1.5.1       Birds (also Red List Species)

 

Fourteen species of birds are resident or visitors under this category

1.1.5.2       Mammals

 

At least five species of mammal are resident within the site

1.1.5.3       Fish

 

One species of fish found in Clifton Beck.

1.1.5.4       Herptiles

 

One species of amphibian under this category occurs in several areas.

1.1.5.5       Amber list Bird Species

 

Another fourteen known species within the village come under this category.

1.1.6        Calderdale Priority Species

1.1.6.1       Birds

 

Twenty-two species of bird occur. Some are also classified above whilst others only occur under this category

1.1.6.2       Animals

 

Four species of amphibian and at least five mammal species occur under this category.

Many more species occur that, although have little protection, are an integral part of the biodiversity of the area.

The whole of the area including both sides of Clifton Common contain species of varying levels of protection. These are currently under recorded but must be taken into account.

Some areas are already proposed as Wildlife Habitat Network; however, it is felt that some UK BAP Priority Habitats have been overlooked in the proposed Calderdale Local Development plan. CVNF propose an extension of the Wildlife Habitat Network, including within the proposed enterprise zone.

 

1.1.7        Measures necessary to protect and enhance biodiversity and green infrastructure

 

Green Infrastructure is the natural physical environment that lies both within and between built areas. It takes the form of a network of multifunctional green spaces, providing a wide array of benefits to society, wildlife and the economy. In particular; it contributes to physical and mental well-being in the community through both its intrinsic value and aesthetic appeal and by meeting recreational needs; it provides ‘space for nature’ and ecological networks that act as nature’s highways.  In built areas, green infrastructure such as private gardens, public green spaces, watercourses, hedgerows and trees, paths, bridleways and verges can all help wildlife and nature to survive and thrive. Green infrastructure is important in all of our lives, and in a development context, paying attention to it helps to create sustainable and beautiful places in which people want to live.  The revised NPPF (2019 15 pt170) requires planning policies and decisions to contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment and details specific guidance to ‘minimising impacts on and providing net gains for biodiversity, including by establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures’ (NPPF 2019 15 pt170d). 

In addition, the NPPF (2019) also identified a requirement to protect and enhance biodiversity and geodiversity mapping within and taking account of wider ecological networks.  CVNF identify biodiversity protection and enhancement within its boundaries as well as how this duty links with neighbouring areas of rich wildlife.  It is impossible to identify protection of biodiversity within the confines of the CVNF boundary without consideration of development within neighbouring areas and their impact on Clifton.  Any development within surrounding areas are likely to have a significant impact on the ecological network which serves the wildlife of the Clifton Village.  Therefore, CVNF have identified ecological assets within the surrounding area as well as measures necessary to ensure the protection and enhancement of Clifton biodiversity and ecological assets.

 

1.1.8        Specific measures necessary

 

1.1.8.1       Hedgerows

 

Identified in the 1854 OS map of Clifton Common are very old and diverse woodland along Wakefield Road and that are.  This ecological asset must be maintained (Hedgerows regulations 1997)

Existing hedgerows running along Wakefield Road and within the Clifton Common (Common relating to the green area of land running parallel to Wakefield Road) are identified on the 1854 OS map of Clifton Common, suggesting they have existed many years before this.  Under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997 (under section 97 of the Environment Act 1995) as well as the Enclosure Acts of the 18th century, these old and important hedgerows must be protected and must be maintained during any proposed development. 

In addition, these existing hedgerows as well as trees, semi-improved and unimproved grassland need to be preserved in order to provide essential biodiverse populations of insects which themselves will provide food for resident bats and bird species.  This habitat is also essential to provide roosting sites and foraging and sheltered areas for protected bat species.  With this in mind, all of the existing hedgerows and trees must be maintained as well as at least 50% of the semi-improved and unimproved grassland.

1.1.8.2       Bats

 

The existence of bats in the bottom corner of Clifton Common ensures this area must not be developed as they are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) (as amended) and  Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2017) (as amended). 

Following the bat conservation trust mitigation hierarchy, CVNF propose that the existing structure of the old railway bridge must be maintained.  Furthermore, areas of development around this railway bridge structure should be prohibited to allow for substantial foraging and roosting opportunities. 

Development taking place within the Clifton Common area must ensure bat boxes are added positioning them following the guidance of the Bat Conservation Society.

1.1.8.3       Bird life

 

To the north of Clifton, close by, there are many species of bird within schedule 1, on the red list, amber list and on the Calderdale birds of conservation concern.  Any development is expected to take account of each of the species and make particular provision to ensure their protection and enhancement.  This might include; bird boxes, bird ledges, foraging grounds, tree, hedge and grassland, green roofs and corridors.  Any development work must also only take place during none breeding season to ensure full protection.

 

1.1.8.4       Animals

 

Clifton village is an essential and important connection with the local ecological network due to its hedgerows, woodland and surrounding semi-improved grassland.  To ensure this ecological network is protected for the movement, foraging and shelter of important animal species such as badgers, brown hares, fox, roe deer, hedgehogs, moles and amphibians CVNF policy is that habitats will remain intact and not be developed.

Creation of built settlements must be ‘permeable’ to wildlife, connecting up green spaces where possible within Clifton (Thornhills, Brighouse, Hartshead etc.)  and the surrounding areas to maximise the chances for nature to thrive and move about, thereby protecting and enhancing our biodiversity assets.

 

Appendices attached:

Habitat Report Clifton Common

Local Birds of Conservation Concern

West Yorkshire Ecology Species Recording from Clifton, Brighouse

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