Planning with nature in mind

spatialplanningWith growing awareness of the value of multifunctional Green Infrastructure (GI) and of the benefits of Ecosystem Services (ES) provided by nature this new guide will help people plan with nature in mind.

Planning naturally – spatial planning with nature in mind looks at best practice in planning approaches which are appropriate internationally as well as in the UK. The guidance is exemplified primarily using a range of  case studies looking at green network planning case studies in England, Scotland and Wales. It has a number of international examples including land use planning in Kenyan river deltas and the role of the environmental court in Vermont, USA.

The guide provides a clear overview and distills its recommendations into 12 guiding principles.

  • Planning should be positive, setting out a clear vision for how areas should look and function in the long-term.
  • Spatial plans should integrate all the issues that affect the development and use of land within a specific territorial area, whether social, economic or environmental.
  • Plans should consider strategic issues that may affect a wider area than the individual plan, including functional ecological areas.
  • Plans should contribute to sustainable development by enhancing the natural environment and ensuring that social and economic development takes place within environmental limits.
  • Plans and projects should be based on up-to-date and scientifically robust evidence, including evidence on the value of the natural environment.
  • Plans and projects should be rigorously assessed for their environmental impacts, and the results used to improve the plan.
  • Alternative options should be considered, particularly alternatives that are less damaging to the environment, and the reasons for rejecting any options should be made public.
  • Public participation is essential. It should be both timely and inclusive of civil society, whether community groups or other stakeholders.
  • Decision-making must be transparent and made by a democratically accountable body or person.
  • Those adversely affected by a planning decision should have a fair opportunity to challenge it.
  • Public authorities should be given the legal powers and resources to enforce planning laws, especially where illegal development is resulting in environmental damage.
  • Plans should be monitored and reviewed regularly.

If these principals are applied to spatial planning there is a stronger likelihood that future developments will help nature to help us. The booklet is a valuable tool to support sustainable development which will benefit both people and biodiversity.

Planning naturally – spatial planning with nature in mind has been been prepared in a joint initiative by the RSPB, CIEEM and RTPI.

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