Herefordshire Council and Worcestershire County Council have both been appointed by the government as Responsible Authorities to collaboratively prepare their county’s new Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS).
LNRS are new locally led, spatial strategies for nature. They will bring together communities and decision makers across the public, private and voluntary sectors to collaborate in planning and prioritising action for nature’s recovery. This will help protect and improve our local environment, contribute towards national environmental objectives, and support the delivery of a new national Nature Recovery Network.
Each strategy must include a local habitat map and a written statement of biodiversity priorities, and are expected to propose actions such as the:
- creation of wetlands
- restoration of peatlands
- planting of trees and hedgerows
- more sustainable management of existing woodlands and other habitats like grasslands
The significance of geology
A key component of developing such a strategy for nature will be to understand which parts of the county are best suited to different kinds of wildlife habitat. This in turn depends crucially on the underlying geology, including bedrock, superficial deposits, rock structure and topography, drainage and soils.
Preparing Local Nature Recovery Strategies is a statutory requirement under the Environment Act 2021, and all planning must be consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework which demands support for geodiversity as well as biodiversity. Hence although statutory guidance and regulations for LNRS do not explicitly refer to geodiversity and geoconservation it is clear that these cannot be ignored.
EHT have already been invited by Worcestershire County Council to support them in this process and have also offered to support Herefordshire Council.
How will the Strategy be delivered?
The government has already developed incentives and obligations to improve biodiversity, for example through the Environmental Land Management Scheme, and the Biodiversity Net Gain requirement on developers. The habitat maps and biodiversity priorities defined in the LNRS will be used to determine the level of incentive awarded for each application within these schemes, depending on their importance to nature recovery.
Responsible Authorities are required to consult with the public about their strategy before it is published, so everyone can have their say in the priorities for their local area. You will have the opportunity to influence priorities and ensure they do not conflict with the interests of geoconservation.
For more details, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-nature-recovery-strategies