We have worked with Natural England and Defra to answer the questions we are most frequently asked by local authority officers and members about nature recovery and those that have come up at events so far. These include a focus on Local Nature Recovery Strategies and we will be adding answers to more questions as we get them. We are keen to get your views and comments on these questions and answers, so please get in touch with Krista Patrick to provide feedback: [email protected]
Yes only in England.
Once the final appointments of responsible authorities have been made by the Secretary of State the details of these authorities and the areas they cover can be shared.
All planning authorities will have a role in LNRS but one of these will lead the process in a locality – they will be the responsible authority. Further details of roles will be outlined in the LNRS regulations and guidance once they are laid in Parliament.
The Secretary of State has publicly stated that she is aiming for roll out of LNRS from April 2023. Ultimately a lot depends on the date when regulations and guidance are laid in Parliament. There are no set timescales associated with LNRS preparation, but it is estimated, based on the pilots, that it will take 12 to 18 months to prepare, agree and publish. However, LNRSs are not required for mandatory BNG to commence. Before LNRS are in a useable state, other strategic plans, such as Green Infrastructure Strategies or Biodiversity Opportunity mapping can be used to direct offsite BNG delivery and determine ‘Strategic significance’.
Ministers have confirmed that they would like us to aim to begin LNRS preparation from April 2023. This will allow enough time to get the national policy framework in place ahead of work commencing in earnest to prepare the strategies. The regulations and guidance are vital components of the national policy framework, and we hope to share more information on these with you shortly. Please rest assured we do not expect anyone to begin LNRS preparation before these are published and responsible authority arrangements have been formalised.
It will be unavoidable that some LNRS areas will start the process from a different baseline due to a myriad of factors, however each responsible authority will receive funding, statutory guidance and support from government. LNRS will be monitored and evaluated periodically so that each LNRS can evolve and improve over time. The Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill, which is currently at its 2nd reading in the House of Lords, is intended to contribute to making plan production across England more efficient by taking out duplication between national and local policy. Local plans will focus on policies for local issues. To find out more: Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill - Parliamentary Bills - UK Parliament
Government have committed to funding new burdens in the Environment Act. Responsible authorities will be receiving monies through S31 grants from DEFRA. These will help to fund the process of preparing and agreeing an LNRS. Delivery of the priorities and actions identified in an LNRS will be incentivised through a combination of public and private finance schemes including ELM, Woodland Creation grants, Carbon Credits, Nature for Climate Peatland Restoration Grants, Flood Resilience Funding etc...
The status of LNRSs in the planning system is yet to be clarified (see below). Delivery of the priorities and actions identified in an LNRS will be incentivised through a combination of public and private finance schemes including ELM, Woodland Creation grants, Carbon Credits, Nature for Climate Peatland Restoration Grants, Flood Resilience Funding etc...
Delivery of the priorities and actions identified in an LNRS will be incentivised through a combination of public and private finance schemes including ELM, Woodland Creation grants, Carbon Credits, Nature for Climate Peatland Restoration Grants, Flood Resilience Funding etc...
All responsible authorities are funded by DEFRA in relation to extra burdens in the Environment (e.g., BNG and LNRS). Responsible authorities and their partners will have equal access to delivery funding including public and private finance such as ELM, Woodland Creation grants, Carbon Credits, Nature for Climate Peatland Restoration Grants, Flood Resilience Funding etc...
In addition to regulations and statutory guidance that will set out the process for LNRS preparation, responsible authorities will receive direct support from local Natural England, Environment Agency and Forestry Commission staff. New burdens funding provided by Defra will cover the costs associated with preparing and publishing an LNRS and will reflect local circumstances that may make some LNRSs more challenging to prepare than others.
Details on this funding will be provided ahead of roll-out. In the meantime, Defra is providing a second tranche of seed funding to all provisional responsible authorities to support capacity building ahead of April 2023.
Mapping and data
No, in fact the portal for LNRS data is not really mapping software. It is a portal that points responsible authorities to existing open government data AND provides some explanation on how we think it is best utilised in a LNRS. The mapping portal will in the first instance provide a set of key environmental data layers to be downloaded. In future the portal will be able to receive data from each locality once final Local Habitat Maps have been agreed. Engagement with entities such as parishes will be via the LNRS partnerships. It may be possible that parishes will submit some of their priorities from their parish plans/local neighbourhood plans for consideration as LNRS opportunities.
Further guidance on the links between the current planning system and the future planning system post-LURB will be provided by DLUHC/DEFRA. There is a requirement in the Environment Act 2021 S102 (5) (2B) for the Secretary of State to issue guidance to local planning authorities as to how they must have regard to LNRS.
The PAS BNG pages set out more information on BNG in planning policy and examples of existing Local Plan policies: Biodiversity Net Gain in Local Plans and Strategic Planning | Local Government Association. PAS advice would be that setting out local habitat priorities in Local Plans is a good way of achieving nature recovery and delivering the LNRS. Further guidance on BNG and LNRS in the planning system post-LURB will be provided by DLUHC/DEFRA. There is a requirement in the Environment Act 2021 S102 (5) (2B) for the Secretary of State to issue guidance to local planning authorities as to how they must have regard to LNRS.
This is an unknown at present. Further guidance on the links between the current planning system and the future planning system post-LURB will be provided by DLUHC/DEFRA. There is a requirement in the Environment Act 2021 S102 (5) (2B) for the Secretary of State to issue guidance to local planning authorities as to how they must have regard to LNRS.
Both on site and off-site biodiversity net gain will have a part to play in nature’s recovery. Again, we’d recommend you look at the PAS BNG webpages and note that further guidance on the links to the future planning system post-LURB will be provided by DLUHC/DEFRA.
Biodiversity net gain is not the only route to delivering nature recovery and there are a range of activities that local authorities are already working on which align with the delivery of the Nature Recovery Network. Examples of projects and plans that put nature recovery at the heart of service delivery including investing in tree planting, working with farm clusters and landscape partnerships, delivering pollinator projects to schools and parish councils. More information is included on the PAS nature recovery webpages.
Delivery of BNG
The BNG approach incentivises onsite or local delivery through the ‘Spatial Risk Multiplier’, which reduces the biodiversity value of habitats delivered further away from the development. Where onsite delivery of BNG is not possible, LNRS can be used to target offsite BNG, through the ‘strategic significance’ score which provides additional unit value to habitats located in preferred locations for biodiversity and other environmental objectives. Further information on BNG in the planning system is provided on the PAS BNG webpages. See our frequently asked questions for more information on on-and off-site BNG: Biodiversity Net Gain FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions | Local Government Association. You can also join our BNG LPA practitioner network by emailing [email protected].
DEFRA is providing new burdens funding to LPAs so they can recruit staff where needed. Natural England has been working with CIEEM to upskill early entry ecologists in the metric and BNG, so that there will be applicants for these posts with the right skills.
LNRSs will agree the priorities for nature recovery in the strategy area and map proposals for where these priorities can be delivered through the creation and improvement of habitats. This mapping can then be used to determine the ‘strategic significance’ score in the BNG metric which gives additional unit values to habitats located in preferred locations for biodiversity and other environmental objectives.
BNG is part of new burdens associated with the Environment Act 2021 that Government have committed to fund. PAS is providing information and training for LPAs on BNG and our focus for this year will be helping LPAs understand BNG in Development Management. Please look at our BNG pages for more information: Biodiversity Net Gain FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions | Local Government Association and join our BNG practitioner network: email [email protected].
Natural England are working with CIEEM and IEMA to look at how assurance for BNG delivery will work when it becomes mandatory.
No. When mandatory BNG comes into force (estimated late 2023), any approach to the delivery of BNG will need to meet the minimum requirements as set out in the legislation (primary and secondary). This means that LPAs will not be able to levy a local BNG tariff to then pool money for investment in nature elsewhere at some future point. Offsite lands used for BNG must be registered on the biodiversity gain register and their usage linked back to a specific planning permission, measured using a standardised biodiversity metric and legally secured for at least 30 years.
There is, however, scope to encourage the development of a local habitat bank (on LPA or other third party land) from which multiple developments could secure BNG through a single site through the sale of smaller parcels of biodiversity unit uplift (see above re schemes for local offsite delivery).
Once LNRS have been produced they will enable BNG offsetting to contribute to strategic (bigger, better, more joined up) nature recovery, through the 15% uplift in the metric for offsetting delivered on sites identified by the LNRS.
Defra and Natural England are working together on a project management and monitoring system which will regularly pull together key information on how the 48 responsible authorities are progressing with their LNRS, tracking what the key risks and issues are, working to resolve, reduce or mitigate them.
Defra are working with evaluations specialists to scope out measures of success, focusing on the first cycle of LNRSs, to allow us to improve on future cycles. This is likely to include what part LNRS has played in recovering nature over time. Lessons learned in this cycle will contribute to smoother and more efficient LNRS review and refresh in future cycles as responsible authorities, ALBs and stakeholders gain experience of the process.