6.1 Air Quality Update – Stuart Steed, Environmental Protection
6.2 Environmental Actions Update – Martin Hall, Greenspaces Manager
6.3 Mini-meadows Update – Martin Hall, Greenspaces Manager
6.1 Officers presented an update on work around effective management of grasslands including a min-meadow programme, wildflower verges and the successful involvement of Friends groups. An overview of key environmental action on the Medway Estuary was also provided. Officers are currently undertaking a gap analysis to understand how accessible the river is. Twenty-one miles have no legal or public rights of way, and these are being mapped to develop an action plan for unlocking this route as and when it is possible. This also ties in with the England Coastal Path work.
6.2 Officers confirmed that they are exploring creating meadow areas within cemeteries, although discussions have raised some health and safety concerns. Officers pointed out that they are still in an ongoing dialogue with the cemeteries regarding the potential to create small meadow areas. Action: Environmental Protection officers to continue the dialogue around mini-meadow areas in cemeteries and make progress where possible.
6.3 Cllr Doe asked officers to consider incorporating meadows into the churchyard that adjoins the Council building and the old Grange Road Cemetery. Action: Environmental Protection officers to explore the suitability of the sites mentioned for mini-meadows.
6.4 Cllr Doe asked officers to consider contacting churches in Medway and invite them to join the scheme. Officers were made aware of guidance available through Natural England on positive management of wildlife within churchyards. Action: Greenspaces officers to raise awareness with internal teams of how the Natural England guidance on management of wildlife within churchyards can be used and promoted with local churches.
6.5 Cllr Maple asked officers to consider whether Maidstone Road/Palmerstone Road cemetery might be a potential pilot site. Action: Environmental Services officers to correspond with councillors on specific site requests for mini meadows within cemeteries, the level of work required and likely costs.
6.6 Cllr Tranter asked officers to consider getting assistance from voluntary groups with meadow management. Action: Greenspaces officers will continue to work with Medway Urban Greenspaces forum to promote volunteer opportunities and encourage local ownership of mini-meadows amongst Friends groups.
6.7 Cllr Tranter noted that Medway has some great dark sky areas around the Medway Estuary which are an important asset. Action: Greenspaces officers to factor Dark Sky areas into the Whoose Hoo project around the Hoo Peninsula.
6.8 Officers gave a presentation on the impact of Covid on air quality.
6.9 Cllr Hackwell queried why anti-idling signs have not been erected in Rainham High Street and asked officers to install and state on the signs that Rainham is one of the four poor air quality areas in Medway. Action: Environmental Protection team to look at this as part of their engagement work on idling and in line with Road Safety/Traffic Management considerations. Officers have started discussions with the University of Kent on the impact of signs on behavioural change.
6.10 Cllr Maple asked officers to consider where else we can promote anti-idling for example social media, Facebook and Medway Matters and highlighted the importance of reviewing where other councils have done this well and received a good outcome. Action: Environmental Protection and Communications officers to progress further communications work on anti-idling.
6.11 Cllr Tranter asked officers to consider working with schools and educating pupils about air quality. Officers noted that they have been actively engaging with schools for a number of years now and can share this information with the group. Action: Environmental Protection team to share Air Quality schools programme with the group.