In 2021 we started work preparing for the introduction of the Environment Act. Our work will focus on the transition to mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain, but we will also be looking at the other planning parts of the Act including the Local Nature Recovery Strategies.
The Environment Act covers targets, plans and policies for improving the natural environment; environmental reporting; the Office for Environmental Protection; waste and resource efficiency; air quality; environmental standards for products; water; nature and biodiversity; conservation covenants; and the regulation of chemicals. Defra's policy papers set out further details.
The Act brings in new requirements for planners and decision-makers in councils in relation to nature and biodiversity:
- Local Nature Recovery Strategies
- Biodiversity Net Gain
- Strengthened biodiversity duty on public authorities
- Strategic protected site and species strategies
- New tree felling consultation requirements
PAS has been commissioned by Defra to support councils in their efforts to get ready for the changes. Alongside preparing for the Act, we are also starting some work to better plan for the environment more generally, starting with areas subject to nutrient neutrality advice.
PAS wants local authority planners and members to get involved to help us decide how we best focus this support and what the priorities should be as the project evolves. You can check out the Planning for a Better Environment section of the PAS KHub forum and sign up to the PAS newsletter.
In Summer 2021, we ran workshops on biodiversity net gain (BNG) and the Environment Bill. A summary of the outputs, including what local authorities are doing now and what they need to get ready for mandatory BNG.
We have worked with Natural England and Defra to answer Frequently Asked Questions from local authority officers and members about biodiversity net gain and those that have come up at events so far.
We are also looking for individuals from local authorities with interest in the topic and a bit of time to form a stakeholder advisory group - contact Beccy Moberly at PAS if you’d like to get involved.
More to come...