Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS)


We, Surrey County Council, are the provisional Responsible Authority for producing a Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS or 'the strategy') for Surrey, covering all boroughs and districts in the county. We are expecting further details from Defra, including secondary legislation and funding, in the spring of 2023.

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A focus on improving outcomes for nature and local people

We will work with a wide range of partners to develop a strategy that focuses on the environmental outcomes that are most needed in local areas.

The primary focus will be what is needed for protecting and restoring nature to benefit the biodiversity of habitats and species, however we will also be considering other environmental benefits, such as flood regulation, water quality, resilience to wildfires, carbon sequestration and access to green space for health and wellbeing.

There will be an interactive map including proposals at a local scale, showing what needs to happen to achieve the agreed aims. This will link up with delivery mechanisms, such as Biodiversity Net Gain in planning and Environmental Land Management schemes for farming and other land management.

Landscape scale actions

To address the nature crisis in England, we need to make our network of nature-rich sites bigger, better, and more joined up across the country. In Surrey, this means pursuing landscape-scale action across boroughs and districts within Surrey, as well as across neighbouring authorities, such as Hampshire, London and Sussex. At a national scale, the local strategies created by each county will join together to form the national Nature Recovery Network which will be hugely important for delivering our national and international targets for biodiversity.

Audience and stakeholders

Each local strategy will need to be detailed enough to be informative to individual landowners, farmers, developers and regulators including Local Planning Authorities. Working with partners in the Surrey Nature Partnership, we will engage with a broad range of stakeholders across the farming, health, community, development and natural resource management sectors. The strategy will be evidence-based and collaboratively developed.

Surrey Biodiversity Opportunity Areas (2014)

Biodiversity Opportunity Areas (BOAs) have been defined and published in 2014, by the Surrey Nature Partnership. The aim of identifying such areas was to protect biodiversity and reverse past losses by enlarging, buffering and reconnecting priority habitats, through the targeted establishment of new wildlife-rich areas, in optimum areas of the county. This is very closely linked to the aim of the local nature recovery strategies.

What will happen to Biodiversity Opportunity Areas (BOAs) in the future?

The detail of BOA boundaries will be reviewed as we develop the LNRS. We want to take account of changes in land use, land ownership and to consider wider environmental objectives. We will incorporate new analysis conducted since BOAs were first mapped, such as on corridors for wildlife through urban areas and other opportunities, such as the best opportunities for highway verges to be wildlife-rich green corridors. We will also map where improving wildlife-rich habitats will most support wider environmental goals, such as flood regulation.

When the LNRS is published, the 'Local Habitat Map' will supersede BOAs. The Local Habitat Map will be become a key reference for prioritising action on the ground and for directing funding.

Timescale for producing the strategy

Development of the LNRS is expected to start soon as possible after the important regulations and guidance are published and the main funding is provided.

Will the strategy be ready for the start of mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain?

The strategy will not be completed ahead of the commencement of mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain (in November 2023 for major development and April 2024 for small sites).

Interim position

In the meantime, existing local biodiversity policy and guidance should be used to inform proposals and decisions.

The Surrey Nature Partnership will consider whether it is necessary and appropriate the publish interim guidance for Local Planning Authorities. Any interim guidance will be published by the Biodiversity Working Group of the nature partnership.

Key milestones

Key milestones will be developed and published, following the County Council's appointment as Responsible Authority.

Steering Group

The Steering Group for the strategy is chaired by the county council's Director for Environment and comprises representatives of key partners and stakeholders.


The membership of the Steering group is:

  • Surrey County Council
  • Surrey Nature Partnership
  • Surrey Wildlife Trust
  • Surrey Biodiversity Information Centre
  • Guildford Borough Council (representing Local Planning Authorities in Surrey)
  • Natural England
  • Forestry Commission
  • Environment Agency
  • NFU (National Farmers Union)
  • CLA (Country Land and Business Association)

Furthermore, Surrey Developers' Forum will be kept closely informed about the development of the strategy.

Legislation and process

The Environment Act (2021) Part 6, Sections 104 to 108, states the core requirements for the Local Nature Recovery Strategy. The Environment Act (2021) says that each Local Nature Recovery Strategy will consist of:

  1. A Statement of Biodiversity Priorities, covering habitats and species
  2. Local Habitat Map

Further details be stated in secondary legislation which is due to be laid before Parliament later in 2023. Defra will provide a data set to each Responsible Authority, which we will then supplement with the most relevant local data.

In addition, Sections 102 and 103 of the Environment Act (2021) and the NERC Act (2006) impose a general duty on the County Council, as a public authority, to conserve and enhance biodiversity and to report on the action taken in this regard. These duties are strongly linked to the delivery element of the LNRS.

Implementation and delivery

The County Council is responsible for producing the strategy. It will also have a related role in implementing it, where relevant to the council's estate, operational activities and duties as Planning Authority for Minerals and Waste development, County Highway Authority and Lead Local Flood Authority.

Delivery across Surrey

To be successful, the strategy will need to be applied beyond the County Council, at all levels and across many sectors. For example:

Planning and development

  • Spatial planning that focuses development on the lowest biodiversity value sites and incorporates landscape habitat connectivity into development plans from the outset
  • Biodiversity Net Gain in development which means there are quantified and enforceable commitments to net gains in biodiversity which are appropriate for the local area

Farming and land management

  • Sustainable farming practices using fewer chemical inputs of pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers, wider field margins, enhancing hedgerows and the dedication of lower productivity land to the natural ('semi-natural') habitats, with funding from Environmental Land Management Schemes
  • Carbon offset schemes such as the Woodland Carbon Code being well integrated with local landscape character and designed to enhance, not reduce, biodiversity
  • Sustainable woodland management for biodiversity, local employment and timber products, supported by management grants

Infrastructure operators

  • Water quality improvements via reduced water company pollution and actions under Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP) to address diffuse pollution sources and support re-naturalised river channels, riparian buffer creation and 'Nutrient neutrality' in developments
  • Natural Flood Management (NFM) schemes and Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) with co-benefits for biodiversity, such as enhancing functionality and habitats of floodplains
  • Infrastructure operator activities, such as highway and railway verges being managed to encourage wildlife-rich corridors, maintaining open watercourses in drainage systems and ensuring operational activities do not cause harm to protected species

Businesses, residents and communities

  • Business support for local environmental improvements, for example wildlife-friendly grounds maintenance and business operations, corporate volunteering and voluntary donations/sponsorships
  • Residents and community activities, such as wildlife gardening, tree planting, conservation volunteering, support for local charities and everyday habits that support nature and local environment.

Mapping and citizen science

We will work with the mapping and citizen science project 'Space4Nature' which is a multi-partner project involving University of Surrey, Surrey Wildlife Trust, Buglife and Painshill Park, funded by the People's Postcode Lottery. This project combines professional ecological expertise and citizen science, through the use of artificial intelligence, to develop innovative methods to better understand and monitor changes in local habitats. Ultimately, this will guide action for improved ecosystems across the county. To participate in Space4Nature, please sign up via the project's website: Space4Nature.

Monitoring progress

The County Council will be responsible for reporting on progress and periodically updating the strategy, at least once every five years. Boroughs and Districts will have related biodiversity enhancement and reporting duties too, under section 102 and 103 of the Environment Act.