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. In 2022 we started a new programme of work to support councils issued with 'Nutrient Neutrality' advice by Natural England.
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.
The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill plus the accompanying policy paper produced by Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC), launched a new form of environmental assessment known as Environmental Outcome Reports (EOR). The intention is that Environmental Outcome Reports will replace the existing system of Sustainability Appraisals (SA), Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA). Shifting to a new ‘outcomes based’ way of assessing impacts from development, plans, projects and policies is going to take time and PAS will be providing insights and support to councils along the journey. To start that journey PAS, jointly with DLUHC, are holding a series of workshops. You can read more about it here
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.
We have run various events on biodiversity net gain since Summer 2021. 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 biodiversity net gain 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...