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Police in Cornwall seek to reduce environmental footprint

Alert message sent 23/07/2021 14:26:00

Information sent on behalf of Devon and Cornwall Police

Devon & Cornwall Police have established a Rural Affairs Advisory Group to provide guidance, expert knowledge and crime prevention opportunities in relation to agriculture, wildlife and heritage assets.

The group was initially established to support the policing of the G7 summit and worked in partnership to assess the impacts of the policing operation and identify mitigation opportunities in relation to agriculture, wildlife and heritage sites.

Members include representatives from: Devon & Cornwall Police, Natural England, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Cornwall Marine and Coastal Code Group, Historic England, the Marine Management Organisation, Animal Health, Environment Agency, NFU, British Divers Marine Life Rescue, RSPB and Farming Wildlife & Advisory Group.

Cornwall benefits from a diverse range of wildlife and habitats, historic features and agriculture and as a result, it was recognised that policing activities undertaken may have an affect. Working closely with Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s ecologist and partners from within the group - Devon & Cornwall Police have worked hard to ensure they were not adversely affected.

Paul Cantwell of Natural England said: “Working with the Rural Affairs Advisory Group has been a great experience and allowed us to advise on protected species and sites at an early stage.

“The proactive approach to protecting the environment adopted by the police has been extremely welcome and one that we hope is adopted by other public bodies in the future.”

An example of the work undertaken by the group can be seen in relation to marine activity in St Ives Bay. Members from the group, including the Marine Management Organisation and the Cornwall Marine and Coastal Code Group, were asked to advise on the impact of the marine activity in preparation for the G7 Summit. Mitigation options and guidance were provided in advance of the Summit and a dynamic reporting protocol was developed to protect marine wildlife. As a result, 49 volunteer surveyors from Cornwall Marine and Coastal Code Group were stationed at key vantage points around St Ives Bay and Falmouth monitoring for the presence of marine wildlife which was then communicated directly to marine resources afloat.

Ruth Williams from Cornwall Wildlife Trust said “Cornwall Wildlife Trust have valued the pre-emptive and collaborative approach of this group over recent months. It has been really positive to see the consideration being given by the police to work with the group to help mitigate the potential impacts to our wildlife, both on land and at sea.”

Devon and Cornwall have a wealth of culturally and historically important sites which are protected by various designations. Several sites featured designations such as Scheduled Monuments or Sites of Specific Scientific Interest during the G7 Summit. Working closely with partners from Natural England and Historic England it was possible to secure the necessary consents to allow activity to continue for the duration of the operation and to protect and preserve the wildlife, environment and features.

Mark Harrison from Historic England said “The formation of this group illustrates the effectiveness of a collaborative partnership. Each agency understood the need and requirement to ensure the safe delivery of the leadership summit, as well as protecting the historic and natural environments from the threat of crime and anti-social behaviour.”

PC Chris Collins, Rural Affairs Officer at Devon & Cornwall Police who created the group noted: “It has been an absolute pleasure to be involved with the group and I have been overwhelmed with the diverse range of expertise, experience and enthusiasm for conservation and the environment”.

Due to the success of the advisory group the decision has been made to continue its activities. The group’s role will now be to provide an advisory response to wildlife, heritage and agricultural crime as well as working on crime prevention opportunities for the benefit of our wildlife, heritage and rural communities.
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Chris Collins (Police, Rural Crime Officer, Devon and Cornwall)
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