Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) are set out in the Environment Bill (Clauses, 93(5), 95 to 99) with the objective of introducing local natural capital planning as a focus for place-based spatial planning, in line with the ambitions of the 25 Year Environment Plan; with a duty placed on public authorities to have regard to any LNRS and 5-yearly reporting requirements. They will be split into 50 areas, most likely at the level of local government boundaries, and will determine priorities through a locally-led process for policy objectives, such as tree planting targets, flood risk reduction, peatland restoration and the wider National Nature Recovery Network. As such, they are intended to provide a framework for targeting action to improve the environment, combining local know-how with national priorities to ensure that wildlife habitat is bigger, better and more joined-up. A core delivery team of responsible authorities, which includes Natural England, the Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, National Parks and AONBs, will form groupings to engage a wider set of stakeholders. This stakeholder participation element will involve the creation of a ‘local convenor’ to coordinate institutions and stakeholders for delivery across a local authority area.

Natural England is leading on the delivery of LNRS pilots in five locations; Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Greater Manchester and Northumbria; which will inform statutory guidance. The process will involve a statement of local biodiversity priorities and a map-based approach to identifying locations relevant to key habitats and other desired outcomes and measures, in line with the pre-2010 Biodiversity Action Plan approach. The statement will include a description of the sub-areas based on geology, topography, soil type, key habitats and species, and the opportunities for linking, increasing or improving habitats, as well as the delivery of environmental outcomes through nature-based solutions and potential measures to deliver these. Finance will be available from ELMs by 2024 but will be blended with private investment and biodiversity net gain funding. This is likely to include the use of small-scale local markets for ecosystem services through platforms such as NatureBid, EnTrade and LENS. Likely challenges for implementation include increasing the burdens on local planning authorities to produce plans, the majority of which no longer retain any ecological expertise, with a significant risk of creating costly ‘paper parks’ that fail to deliver environmental outcomes, given the lack of monitoring resources and delivery across administrative boundaries, such as where national parks fall across local government boundaries.

A POSTnote on this subject will summarise the approach and evidence being used to implement the Local Nature Recovery Network and the likely challenges for delivering the desired outcomes.

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