Agenda item

By Councillor Parker - Opportunities for nature on HRA land

By Councillor Parker - Opportunities for nature on HRA land




1.         Notes that the Council declared a Nature Emergency in February 2023 recognising the “inherent value of nature, including its crucial importance as an integral part of culture and society, and for our health, wellbeing, and economy”.


2.         Notes a number of existing Council strategies and pledges which focus on improving outcomes for biodiversity, for example the Thriving Greenspaces strategy, Biodiversity Action Plan, Nature Network, Living Landscapes work and Million Tree City pledge.


3.         Notes that much of the work under these strategies to date is primarily planned for Parks and Greenspace land, though welcomes discussions to focus on HRA land as part of the next stage of delivery of the Edinburgh Nature Network.


4.         Considers that people - as well as birds, bees, butterflies, caterpillars, worms, badgers, foxes, otters, hedgehogs, fungi, lichen, mosses, plants, trees, grasses etc - have no concept of the artificial categorisation of HRA land vs Parks and Greenspace land, and that therefore general strategies which focus on improving outcomes for biodiversity should operate across these boundaries, and that this will require a joined up approach across the Council.




5.         Notes that the HRA includes spending on the Neighbourhood Environment Programme – worth £3.5m in 22-23 and £2.3m in 23-24 – to cover funding for projects taking place on HRA land to improve estates, but that:


a.              There are no specific outcomes or relevant KPIs defined for nature as part of these projects.

b.              There is no data collected about: i) land converted from greenspace to hardstanding, ii) land converted from hard standing to greenspace or, iii) land converted to that with high biodiversity value, through these projects, despite these being key aims / indicators as part of the wider Council’s nature strategies.


6.         Notes that, whilst maintenance standards are consistent between HRA land and Parks and Greenspace land, monitoring of landscape quality is not – for example, Parks and Greenspace land is routinely assessed against Green Flag standards / Parks Quality Assessment (which includes the monitoring of positive outcomes for biodiversity), but this is not applied to HRA land.


7.         Recognises that nature has a key role to play in improving health and wellbeing and, in line with a climate justice approach, the opportunity for people to access nature should apply equally across all of the Council’s estate, be that on HRA land or Parks & Greenspace land.


Further notes that:


8.         Estate-wide changes are taking place within the Parks and Greenspace service to change operations to improve outcomes for biodiversity and that this will impact on how some areas of HRA land are maintained, as well as how the HRA is charged for Parks & Greenspace services.


9.         The Housing and Property Framework which contains NEP spending is due for retendering in November 2024.


10.       Over the next year the Council will be developing a Local Housing Strategy for Edinburgh (2025-2030).


11.       A Living Landscape map is being developed to outline where interventions are being planned as part of that project, and that this will allow for individuals to see the disaggregation of HRA land and Parks and Greenspace land within the project.


Therefore, with the aim of pulling together these different projects, outcomes, and concerns:


12.       Requests a report to Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work committee in 2 cycles to set out:


a.              A timetable and update for the Living Landscape mapping project concerning HRA land, with specific information about how this output will be integrated into wider workplans within the Housing service.

b.              Recommendations for how resources allocated from the Neighbourhood Environment Programme in 24-25 can be better utilised to support aims for nature, including how these projects can dovetail with other Council strategies working on nature and biodiversity, and what additional data ought to be collected against these projects in order to evidence this going forward.

c.              Recommendations for what specific outcomes for nature could be included as part of the NEPs programme when it is retendered later this year, including KPIs to be included as part of this.

d.              Recommendations for how the above actions can be monitored through committee going forward, including a proposed future reporting schedule around “Opportunities for nature on HRA land” / tackling the Nature Emergency on HRA land, cognisant of the possible overlapping of projects and reporting with Culture & Communities committee and suggestions about how this should be managed.


13.       Agrees that the Local Housing Strategy will include a specific topic paper focused on improving opportunities for nature as part of it, and that this will be developed in consultation with relevant officers / external groups with expertise on nature and biodiversity.”