Lapwing (small bird with a sticky-up whispy feather on head) walking on grass at Elmley NNR
Credit: Jim Higham

Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS)

Established in the new Environment Act, LNRS provides the opportunity to deliver an ecologically coherent and landscape scale, strategic approach to nature recovery in Kent and Medway.

As a “responsible authority” to lead on the production of LNRS, Kent County Council and Medway Council are likely to support an integrated “Kent and Medway” LNRS with one responsible authority, namely Kent County Council. Assuming this is the case, Kent County Council will look to use the KNP as a framework for taking forward this work.

Kingsgate Bay shore line and cliffs

As spatial strategies, LNRS will establish priorities and map proposals for specific actions to drive nature’s recovery and provide wider environmental benefits. Secondary legislation and statutory guidance, yet to be published will contain the detail, but what we do know is that at a minimum each LNRS will include: –

  • Agreed priorities for nature’s recovery.
  • A map of the most valuable existing areas for nature.
  • A map of proposals for creating or improving habitat for nature.
  • Inclusion of wider environmental goals.
Autumnal tree with view to lake in background

The production of each LNRS will be evidence-based, locally led and collaborative, to create a network of shared plans that public, private, and voluntary sectors will all help to deliver. The anticipated 50 Local Nature Recovery Strategies will underpin England’s Nature Recovery Network, a national network of wildlife-rich places to increase and restore nature.

Fresh new spring beech leaves, Thornden Wood, Canterbury

LNRS will be used to:

• Channel investment into local priorities for protection and enhancement, such as the Environment Land Management scheme.
• Map specific opportunities for the use of “nature-based solutions” to wider environmental problems like flooding, climate change mitigation and adaptation or poor water quality.
• Guide mandatory biodiversity net gain investments.
• Provide a source of evidence for local planning authorities to prepare their Local Plans, helping these authorities understand locations important for conserving and enhancing biodiversity.

Pink, purple and yellow chalk grassland flowers on a steep chalk escarpment overlooking the sea

The planning role for LNRS will be backed by a specific duty on all public authorities to “have regard” to relevant LNRS and a duty for specified public bodies to report every five years on what action they have taken. Each Strategy will also reflect planned or ongoing nature recovery activity, in order to improve integration between existing efforts to improve the environment.

The coronavirus pandemic has drawn further attention to the importance of access to nature and green space to health and wellbeing and has also highlighted where there may be areas of deprivation in this regard. Consequently, it has been suggested that a LNRS may also identify opportunities to increase access to nature whilst supporting its recovery. Whether the government will enable the inclusion of this or provide guidance is not yet clear.

Pond surrounded by trees

The broad process for the preparation of a LNRS includes (from the LNRS pilots): –

• Government provides a map of each Strategy area, including habitats and national conservation sites.
• Locally held data is added to the map, including locally identified wildlife sites.
• Description of the Strategy area, including its key habitats and potential opportunities to create or improve them.
• Identification of outcomes, achieved through creation or improvement of habitat, and grouping of these into “priority” and “other”.
• Potential measures for creating or improving habitat to achieve the priority and other outcomes.
• Mapping of suitable locations for the delivery of the potential measures onto map of existing habitat.

Traditional orchard in spring with sheep grazing underneath

The above steps will combine to inform the “statement of biodiversity priorities” the “local habitat map” for the LNRS.

A KNP subgroup is tentatively preparing for the LNRS and will ensure the KNP Kent Biodiversity Strategy (2020 – 45) is utilised, but the work of the group will start in earnest with the publication of secondary legislation.

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