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Local Nature Recovery Strategies : Setting the scene

Over the last decade or so a series of reports have set out the need for urgent coordinated action to be taken to address a decline in biodiversity across the UK. As far back as 2010, the Lawson Report, Making Space for Nature (2010), reviewed England’s wildlife sites and ecological networks and encouraged the identification of Biodiversity Opportunity Areas and work to enhance links between isolated pockets of valuable habitat. The State of Nature Report 2019 repeated the concern about rapidly declining biodiversity citing 41% of UK species have decreased in abundance and a 13% fall in average species population. [Figures provided by SCC Chief Ecologist]

The UK Government has now established a new mandatory England wide system of Local Nature Recovery Strategies – spatial strategies which will establish priorities and map proposals for specific actions to drive nature recovery and wider environmental benefits.

The Environment Act 2021 sets out the legal framework for the statutory duties relating to Local Nature Recovery Strategies and the now enhanced biodiversity duty (previously set out in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006) and has also introduced a requirement into planning for development to deliver Biodiversity Net Gain.

Local Nature Recovery Strategies

The intention is for Local Nature Recovery Strategies to:

Buckland Parish Council recently attended a briefing, held February 2024, from Surrey County Council’s Chief Ecologist, whose team is charged, with the support of the Surrey Nature Partnership (and its working parties), with drafting a Local Nature Recovery Strategy for Surrey. The attendees were advised:

Surrey County Council’s Chief Ecologist did confirm that the Nature Recovery Strategy for Surrey will focus upon Biodiversity Opportunity Areas, referred to as BOA’s, which were mapped in 2015 and have since formed the basis for Nature Recovery initiatives across the county. Parish Councils and Community groups were encouraged, whilst waiting for sight of a draft Nature Recovery Strategy for Surrey to:

To read more about what the team at Surrey County Council has to say about Local Nature Recovery Strategies please follow this link. Visit the Surrey Nature Partnership website to learn more about the role it and its working parties play.

Duties of Buckland Parish Council

Parish Councils have a general duty to conserve and enhance biodiversity (as set out in s102 of the 2021 Environment Act, legislation that took effect on 1st January 2024). When Buckland Parish Council (“Council”) met in January 2024, Council reviewed its ongoing initiatives and established a page dedicated to explaining what it does and how Council ensures it remains compliant with the legislation.

When Council met in March 2024, Council resolved to “consider the potential impact of actions it considers taking on biodiversity” and “take an interest in any future initiatives our neighbouring parishes and statutory councils might be championing with a biodiversity theme“.

This commitment is consistent with the statement adopted with respect to Climate Change in November 2020 which stated Council resolved to “actively think about climate change in every action Council takes by Councillors incorporating consideration of climate change into their everyday thinking” rather than rush to launch any specific initiatives at this time and recorded “an interest in any future initiatives our neighbouring parishes and statutory councils might be championing with a climate change or environmental theme“.

Planning and Biodiversity Net Gain

The UK Government website defines Biodiversity Net Gain as a way of creating and improving biodiversity and by requiring development to have a positive impact on biodiversity. The Environment Act 2021 sets out the following key components to mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain:

Most major planning applications submitted under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 since 12th February 2024 will need to comply with the Biodiversity Net Gain requirements set out in the Environment Act 2021 and the need to consider Biodiversity Net Gain will soon be relevant to most planning applicants..

For anyone interested to learn more please follow this link to read what MVDC, as the local planning authority has to say