Biodiversity Evidence – Better Outcomes from Planning

Aims and Objectives

The “Biodiversity Evidence – Better Outcomes from Planning” Project aims to understand the challenges, limitations and needs of Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) in London with regards to taking account of biodiversity early on in the planning process, and to provide resources to help them overcome some of these issues.

Considering biodiversity early in the planning process, and conserving and enhancing biodiversity can also provide opportunities for delivering positive outcomes for adaptation to climate change, health and well-being, air quality, green infrastructure and flood alleviation and biodiversity net gain.

Background

In 2016, a project by the Mayor of London[1] concluded that about 18% of planning applications in a one year period in London should have been supported by a biodiversity data search, based on a set of criteria used to assess the potential impacts of the proposed developments on biodiversity. However, it was found that only 1% of applications that were validated were accompanied by a GiGL data search during the same period.

Scope

The scope of the project is Greater London and its LPAs. There are 35 LPAs in London; this includes all Boroughs, the City of London and two Mayoral Development Corporations (London Legacy Development Corporation and Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation). This is a one-year project, which started in October 2019, supported by the Mayor of London and hosted by GiGL.

Based upon the Ordnance Survey 1: 10 000 map © Crown Copyright and database right 2020. Ordnance Survey 100032216 GLA.

Participation

The first phase of the project examined how London’s Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) are currently taking into account biodiversity in planning and identified their challenges and needs through a questionnaire survey and direct meetings. Overall, 23 LPAs participated by completing the questionnaire and/ or contributing in meetings. In total, there were 39 responses to the questionnaire survey and 31 participants in the meetings. The participants represent a wide coverage of London’s LPAs which includes inner and outer London LPAs, LPAs with and without in-house ecologists providing planning advice, GiGL partner and non-partner LPAs, as well as different roles within the LPAs (see figure below).

A summary of the main findings can be seen below

Next steps

Training, biodiversity validation checklist and guidance material were among the most popular responses on what would be beneficial in relation to considering biodiversity in the early stages of the planning process. The second phase of the project consists of developing training and material that can be used as guidance. The content of these is tailored by the information already collected. Many valuable inputs were provided by participants and some will inform recommendations for future work that will come out at the end of this project.

The training event will be held on the 23 September 2020. Details of its contents can be found here.

The resources prepared under the framework of this project can be found here. These resources will be updated regularly and new ones will be added.

[1] For more information see GiGL's Planning for Nature webpage: www.gigl.org.uk/planning-for-nature/