Building success for Biodiversity Net Gain and the Environment Act

 © Paul Hobson

Online conference to support planners and developers with rapid reforms

2021 will see the most significant changes to the planning system in decades with the new Environment Act, biodiversity net gain and other rapid reforms. So the Surrey Nature Partnership is hosting its second annual Biodiversity and Planning conference online on 18th-19th February 2021 to support best practice for nature’s recovery and a vision for a future with abundant wildlife and rich biodiversity.

This year’s conference for planners, developers and ecological consultants across the South East is to build on the success of the inaugural Biodiversity and Planning Conference in 2020. On the agenda is the latest legislation, how to realise a truly significant biodiversity net gain and the government’s recent white paper, Planning for the Future, reforms intended to simplify the planning system.

Mike Waite, who re-discovered the Great Fox-spider in Surrey after twenty years without a UK sighting, and is also Living Landscapes, Policy & Research Manager at Surrey Wildlife Trust, will set the scene by describing why biodiversity deserves its increasing attention in the planning system. Dr Nick White, key advisor at Natural England, discusses how the Environment Act will impact local planning authorities.

The conference will take place online over two mornings. Participants will hear from leading environmental lawyers, Cornerstone Barristers, environmentalists and developers, Balfour Beatty, among others. Dr Caroline Jessell will be announcing the launch of a new South East Nature Partnership, a collaborative of Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire working together with local enterprise partnerships to unite nature’s recovery across the South East.

Mike Waite, Surrey Wildlife Trust, said:

“There is a huge demand for specialist training and advice in the planning sector to keep up with the rapidly evolving focus on nature’s recovery. This is further amplified as the concepts of natural capital and green investment gain endorsement across the financial and development sectors.

‘There is overwhelming support for positive change, but many planners are unfamiliar with ecological and environmental disciplines. Professionals need to acquire new skills or know where to find people with those skills. The conference was fantastic for networking last year and we aim to encourage this through the online platform this year too.’

Further presentations will cover how planning authorities could play a key role in delivering biodiversity net gain, where they can go for advice, how they must fulfil their net gain obligations and mitigate damage to biodiversity on development sites. A recent examination of legal cases will provide guidance on the handling of planning applications with significant biodiversity opportunities. Specialist advice will also be available on safeguarding ancient trees and woodlands in development.

To attend the conference it costs £57 per delegate for non-profit organisations and local authorities and £82 per delegate for the private sector. Ticket income supports the work of the Surrey Nature Partnership in delivering natures recovery.

More info & booking