Biodiversity in Epsom and Ewell
Biodiversity is the word used to describe the complexity and abundance of life on earth in all its forms. The intricate network of ecosystems, habitats and species comprising biodiversity provides the support systems that sustain human existence. Consequently, humanity must 'act locally and think globally' by adopting sustainable ways of living that ensure the protection of biodiversity.
Biodiversity Action Plan
We have a Local Biodiversity Action Plan 2020-30 to help ensure both the long term protection and enhancement of biodiversity within our borough. This is our second 10 yr Biodiversity Action Plan.
The working group which oversees the implementation of the plan produced its first progress report for the 2010-20 plan in December 2011. All progress reports are available on request and below are links to the most recent ones, which explain the progress made over the years.
How does biodiversity benefit our community?
Our Local Biodiversity Action Plan aims to promote the economic and health benefits of biodiversity in Epsom and Ewell.
Our health and the economies, local, national and global, that we work in, depend on healthy ecosystems providing fresh water, fertile soils, clean air, diverse wildlife and places to enjoy.
The Ecosystems Knowledge Network is a great place to start discovering the practical benefits of maintaining healthy ecosystems. The UK is a world leader in research in to 'Ecosystem Services' and a UK National Ecosystem Assessment has already been carried out.
Biodiversity and Planning in Epsom and Ewell
An important target for the Local Plan is to ensure that the conservation and/or enhancement of biodiversity is a key part of our planning decision making process. In January 2012, we adopted a guide called Biodiversity and Planning in Epsom and Ewell that gives guidance on the protection and enhancement of biodiversity through the planning system. Whilst outdated, the background information on protected habitats and species remains relevant. We are working on updating the guidance shortly.
Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)
What is Biodiversity Net Gain?
Biodiversity is the variety of all living things on our planet, including species, habitats and ecosystems. Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is an approach to planning and land management that leaves the natural environment in a better state than it was before.
Development often results in impacts on, and losses of, nature. Therefore, from January 2024, qualifying developments proposals in England will be required to deliver an increase of at least 10% Biodiversity Net Gain compared to the existing biodiversity value (or baseline) of the site under the Environment Act 2021. The idea being that development will result in an improvement to the environment.
There is a transitional period for smaller schemes (fewer than 10 units or less than 1 hectare) and some other types of development will also be exempt. Secondary legislation will be published in November to clarify some of these matters.
Natural England’s Biodiversity Matrix will be used to calculate the Biodiversity value of the development site as it is existing and the calculated value after the development.
Epsom and Ewell’s Approach so far.
We are committed to protecting and conserving the natural environment. Our current Local Plan seeks to protect and enhance valuable natural environment and biodiversity. The Council currently has no mechanism to secure the mandatory BNG in advance of the effective date of January 2024 and does not have a Local Plan Policy which requires a 10% BNG. However, it is important to note that the current up to date policies highlights the need for biodiversity enhancement and that development should not result in any net loss of biodiversity. These need to be applied when determining day to day planning applications at present. The current Local Plan policies on biodiversity are primarily set out in policies Core Strategy CS3 and Development Management policy DM4.
As of January 2024, the introduction of mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain BNG ensures that it is at the forefront of our planning system so that habitats within Epsom and Ewell can be protected for years to come. The Council is in the process of making sure that it is ready to introduce the national requirements when it takes effect in the new year.
It is important to note that the requirement for Biodiversity Net Gain doesn’t alter existing requirements and protections for the natural environment such as protecting important habitats and species. These must be achieved alongside providing BNG.
We are currently in the process of updating our Local Plan. For further information on the progress of this please visit Draft Local Plan 2022-2040.
Further information on Biodiversity Net Gain
- Biodiversity Net Gain Brochure, Natural England
- The Biodiversity Metric, Natural England
- The Small Sites Metric, Natural England
- Planning Advisory Service (PAS) BNG resources
- Biodiversity Net Gain timetable, DEFRA, DLUHC
Local Nature Recovery Strategies
Local Nature Recovery Strategies are a new, England-wide system of spatial strategies that aim to halt and reverse declines in biodiversity and deliver wider environmental benefits. The new Strategies are required by law under the Environment Act 2021. Surrey County Council is responsible for preparing the Local Nature Recovery Strategy for Surrey. Epsom and Ewell Borough Council is a supporting authority (as are all other Borough/District Councils within Surrey). Local Nature Recovery Strategies will help to direct several new funding streams including for agri-environment funding and links to Biodiversity Net Gain. For further details, including how to get involved in the future, please visit Surrey County Council’s webpage on Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS)