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Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS)

What is the LNRS?

Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS') are a system of spatial strategies for nature and environmental improvement required by law under the Environment Act 2021. The main purpose of the LNRS is to identify locations to create or improve habitat most likely to provide the greatest benefit for nature and the wider environment. The LNRS will set out habitats, and the species they support, that are priorities for habitat creation and enhancement measures in the strategy area.

Who is responsible for the LNRS?

Essex County Council (ECC) have been appointed as the responsible authority to deliver the Essex LNRS on behalf of Greater Essex. 48 LNRSs together will cover the whole of England, with no gaps and no overlaps. This lays the foundation of the England wide National Recovery Network (NRN).

How will the LNRS be delivered?

The Environment Act 2021 establishes two mechanisms to support the delivery of LNRS: mandatory BNG and a strengthened biodiversity duty on public authorities. Mandatory BNG is one of the key mechanisms to support the implementation of the LNRS.

The LNRS will identify where action to achieve net gain will have the most impact for nature recovery and will encourage action in these locations through the way net gain is calculated. The LNRS will be used to target off-site BNG so that it contributes to the NRN. The LNRS can be used to determine the 'strategic significance' score that is part of the biodiversity metric calculation. The 'strategic significance' score is a landscape scale factor, which gives additional unit value to habitats that are located in preferred locations for biodiversity and other environmental objectives. In summary, the biodiversity metric will favour sites that have been highlighted as opportunities within the LNRS.

Current status of the LNRS

The development of the LNRS in Essex will be a collaborative effort, bringing together partners from all sectors to support the delivery of a strategy that truly reflects the priorities for nature in Essex, and the local level knowledge needed to produce the strategy. ECC are working with multiple partners from across the public, private and voluntary sectors, to create the strategy. Landowners and Farmers are critical to the development of the LNRS, as they will be able to identify potential opportunity areas for nature recovery and off-site BNG delivery.

Once the LNRS is published, public authorities will need to understand how they can contribute to them. LNRS guidance, released by DEFRA March 2023, states that all public authorities should have regard to relevant LNRS under the strengthened biodiversity duty. The government will be providing separate guidance to explain what this means in practice. The expectation is that the LNRS will be used to help inform how and where BNG should be delivered, i.e., which habitats are appropriate in which locations.

There will be an interim period between BNG becoming a legal requirement on 12 February 2024, and the creation of the LNRS. Local authorities are advised to use local strategies to inform off-site BNG targeting prior to the implementation of the LNRS, such as green space strategies and biodiversity opportunity mapping. The availability and type of strategies available varies locally according to what activity and policy making has been taken forward by local authorities, non-governmental organisations, and other agencies.

As the LNRS progresses, further updates will be provided. It is proposed that a public consultation will be held on the draft LNRS later this year, likely in Q3 2024.

For further information on the LNRS please also see the following webpages: