Buckinghamshire set to pilot national initiative for nature

The launch event at Hampden Bottom Farm, Great Missenden, attended by Bill Chapple OBE (far left), Marian Spain (second left), and Tony Juniper (fourth from right).

Buckinghamshire Council has been selected by DEFRA/Natural England to be one of five local authorities nationally to pilot a key part of the government’s national Nature Recovery Network initiative.

The initiative is an ambitious plan to strengthen and renew the natural environment across England by potentially creating Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRSs) in every county area. Each LNRS will combine local knowledge with expert information and advice to plan for more coordinated, practical and focused action to support nature recovery.

Producing LNRSs will become a statutory responsibility for county and unitary authorities, assuming the current Environment Bill successfully passes through Parliament. They will provide the key mechanism for planning local delivery of the Nature Recovery Network, a major commitment in the Government’s 25 year Environment Plan.

Buckinghamshire has been chosen for the pilot on the basis of our collaborative relationship with our Local Nature Partnership and the Chilterns Conservation Board, our emerging Biodiversity Action Plan, our award-winning Environmental Record Centre, our well-developed biodiversity net gain scheme and existing good progress with natural capital mapping. The strategy would provide an excellent evidence base for the new Buckinghamshire Local Plan.

The five pilot areas – Buckinghamshire, Greater Manchester, Northumberland, Cumbria, and Cornwall, were announced yesterday (13 August) at a launch event which took place at Hampden Bottom Farm near Great Missenden, The five areas represent a combined investment of over £1m by the government to help prepare for future implementation nationwide.

The launch event, at a farm where work to enhance the natural environment is already underway, was attended by Chief Executive of Natural England Marian Spain, environmental campaigner and Chairman of Natural England Tony Juniper, and Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change Bill Chapple OBE.

Bill Chapple said he was absolutely delighted to be part of the pilot: “The fact that we’ve been selected to develop one of the five pilot Local Nature Recovery Strategies is testament to the quality of the partnership work that’s already underway in Buckinghamshire to better understand our natural environment. Pilot status provides additional funding that will really help us develop this work further and create a blueprint for restoring and enhancing nature that can be used as the basis for schemes in other similar counties.”

Andrew Smith, Area Manager for Natural England in the Thames Solent commented: “We are delighted that Buckinghamshire has been selected to pilot Local Nature Recovery Strategies, which is recognition of both their hard work and the strong relationships made. The Nature Recovery Network provides the opportunity to transform nature recovery in this country and LNRS will provide the key mechanism for planning its delivery. We look forward to working with the council and other partners as they trial and shape this ground breaking initiative that has the potential to significantly benefit our wildlife, our communities and our future.”