South Ayrshire Council is taking forward a number of actions to realise the Green Network.
- Develop standards in relation to the quantity, quality and access to open space within South Ayrshire.
- Ensure the South Ayrshire Council draft Core Path Plan is adopted by 2014.
- Produce a South Ayrshire Council Woodland Management Plan which will have short, medium and long term targets / actions by 2013 and this will link to work proposed for the Heritage Lottery Fund bid for Belleisle Estate.
- Produce a South Ayrshire Council Street Tree Policy by 2013.
A range of actions have been taken across the South Ayrshire area in support of the CSGN declaration commitments.
South Ayrshire Council has continued active involvement and support for the Ayrshire Green Network Partnership (AGNP) including hosting and supporting the AGNP partnership officer.
South Ayrshire Council’s Local Development Plan (LDP) was adopted on 23 September 2014. The LDP policy on the CSGN is ‘to contribute to the vision and goals of the network. We will use development opportunities, including through master planning, to make sure that pathways, cycle routes, golf courses, harbours, woodlands, open spaces, river valleys, parklands, wildlife settings, wind farm areas and transport routes, are, as far as possible, connected through a network of green links.’
The planning service continues to reflect the objectives of the CSGN within their decisions on major applications. The service is requesting compensation for woodland loss and green network improvements such as footpath improvements to core path network where appropriate, for example in relation to housing or windfarm proposals. Habitat Management Plans are also developed to accompany some development proposals.
Galloway & South Ayrshire Biosphere
South Ayrshire Council continues to champion and support the Galloway & South Ayrshire Biosphere as a vehicle to accelerate the engagement of local communities and businesses with their natural environment. This work is adding value to business product (tourism/branding/quality) and delivering many improvements and changes in land uses that strengthen habitat networks in the area, such as native woodland habitat improvement and peat restoration. Following a series of climate adaptation workshops, the Galloway & South Ayrshire Biosphere is aiming to prepare a Climate Ready Biosphere vision in 2015.
Core Path Plan
A specific commitment in the council’s CSGN declaration was that the draft Core Path Plan be adopted by 2014. This was successfully achieved in November 2014 with a single modification to a route in Kirkoswald, following a 19 month long inquiry.
Ayrshire and Arran Forestry and Woodland Strategy 2014
The Ayrshire and Arran Forestry and Woodland Strategy was launched in October 2014. It is intended to provide a policy and spatial framework to guide woodland management and expansion in Ayrshire and Arran in an effort to maximise the contribution of woodland and forestry to the people, environment and economy of the region.
A range of forestry and woodland works has been undertaken by the council since 2013. As part of a 25 year woodland management plan for Belleisle, all the trees have been surveyed and work has started on implementing the recommendations. A programme of replanting is also underway.
Trees have been surveyed in Rozelle, Craigie and Castlehill and these reports will also form the basis of future works. Woodland work has already taken place within Rozelle and Castlehill including clearing undergrowth, minor arboricultural works, path works and surveys carries out in Cambusdoon and along the old railway line. In October 2014 Rozelle also saw the felling of the commercial mono culture plantation and is being replanted with native woodland, enhancing both the landscape and biodiversity. Surveys of the woodlands at Fullarton and Annbank will take place in 2015.
It is estimated that during 2014 around 850 trees will have been planted by Neighbourhood Services. It is anticipated that a further council specific Woodland Management Plan will be produced by March 2016. A Tree Works Policy is under preparation and will advise elected members, council staff and residents what types of tree surgery requests can be taken forward. It is anticipated that this will then become an element of the wider plan.
Open Space Standards
Timescales are still to be established for devising overall open space standards. However, in the meantime the council continue to successfully operate standards for the amount and nature of open space in new developments.