Injecting a Natural Capital Planning Tool into Green-Blue Infrastructure Management

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Sch of Geography, Earth & Env Sciences

Abstract

Injecting a Natural Capital Planning Tool into Green-Blue Infrastructure Management

The UK Natural Environment White Paper called for better delivery and management of green-blue infrastructure (GBI). Specifically: "Planning has a key role in securing a sustainable future. However, the current system is failing to achieve the kind of integrated and informed decision-making that is needed to support sustainable land use." (HM Government 2011:21). In Biodiversity 2020 Strategy Defra states: "Through reforms of the planning system, we will take a strategic approach to planning for nature. We will retain the protection and improvement of the natural environment as core objectives of the planning system." (Defra 2011:6). The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) concludes that "Local planning authorities should set out a strategic approach in their Local Plans, planning positively for the creation, protection, enhancement and management of networks of biodiversity and green infrastructure" (DCLG 2012:25).

To meet these objectives for better assessment and management of GBI values a pilot Natural Capital Planning Tool (NCPT) was developed (2014), using the lens of Natural Capital (NC), allowing the indicative but systematic assessment of GBI values for planning procedures but without demanding specific ecological expertise by the tool user; The tool is available in a demo version but has not been live tested or undergone a peer-review process. This project aims to improve the incorporation and appreciation of GBI value and benefits within UK planning policy and decision making in terms of holistically and systematically assessing its NC and ESS. The end-users engaged in all stages of the project can include 7 case study partners (CSP's) covering both, governmental authorities and industry partners: Birmingham City Council, Central Bedfordshire Council, Southampton City Council, South Downs National Park Authority, Skanska, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and Tarmac. Additionally there are other end-users: Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and Natural England.

To deliver the project we have created 3 Work Packages (WPs). In WP1 the NCPT will be tested at several case study sites covering different GBI settings from rural to urban and different stages of the planning process from local to strategic. The NCPT application will enable end-users to establish more sustainable plans and designs and will also inform the development of the NCPT. WP2 emphasises translation via the running of 2 end-user engagement workshops to: (1) unpack and revise the NCPT, (2) assess the industry/planner demand, (3) explore and discuss the barriers, opportunities and requirements for system integration and industry acceptance, and (4) build capacity and new partnerships and networks to further develop and mainstream the NCPT. In addition we will establish a project steering group with representation from all project partners with the purpose to: (1) review and discuss subsequent outputs, (2) oversee the process and project delivery, (3) offer CSP's and other end-users a platform to discuss, exchange ideas, and share good and bad experiences; and to (4) explore the long-term opportunities and barriers for system integration of the NCPT and the value of GBI into planning more generally. Furthermore we will establish a NCPT review and examination group including experts from RTPI, RICS, Natural England and potentially other stakeholders such as IEEM, Defra, industry partners and other end-users. WP3 uses collected feedback to update the then peer-reviewed NCPT which will be published on a web portal making it available to the wider planning/developer community.

Planned Impact

Four broad sectors are direct beneficiaries of the co-design, testing and refinement of the Natural Capital Planning Tool (NCPT) for enhanced Green-blue Infrastructure (GBI) planning:

The built environment professions and disciplines will benefit through an enhanced understanding of the natural capital value of GBI in different land use change scenarios. Landscape architecture & property management services have a key issue in the design and management of existing blue and green space. Key outputs will be a critical assessment of the NCPT together with other tools available and the various options as to how this work can be funded and managed over the long term. The project partners are working across different scales and settings which will secure maximum value to build environment services across the UK.

Urban infrastructure: providers and managers of green space, water resources, drainage and flood relief and others who operate within urban ecosystems and who are often hampered by: adversarial planning rules, environmental conflicts, local NIMBY-type opposition and market failures as a result of poor determination of the true contribution of GBI. The ecology of urban areas suffers from a high degree of fragmentation which disruption ecological function and ecological service delivery, despite a particular focus on the use of GBI and its role in human wellbeing. This project provides models of integration and consensus building, which will have direct benefits for these providers (both public /private/partnership and community based).
Ecosystems & environmental management: definition these challenges demand more integrated and inter-dependent system solutions. Using the holistic framework of the Ecosystem Approach the project will demonstrate examples that bring mainstream ecosystem thinking into statutory planning frameworks and highlight ecologically led opportunity spaces through application of natural capital and ecosystem services thinking to urban challenges. Here NEWP meets NPPPF.

Four types of stakeholders are involved as principal players in this knowledge exchange: policy-makers, businesses, civil society and 'knowledge brokers / social entrepreneurs'.

Professional planners will be able to see the benefits and value of GBI in the use and application of the NCPT in different planning situations. This will improve their assessments of value of nature and the trade-off analyses they have to undertake in complex planning decisions.

Policy-makers and public services are often hampered by the complexity and fluidity of the urban space: they will benefit from analysis and demonstration of the NCPT through policy innovation and policy learning. Businesses, investors and property owners/managers will benefit from greater certainty and clarity of the benefits from GBI in different land use scenarios and from enhanced links with social and ecological values.

Civic society and community stakeholders will benefit from the shared vision which enable them to understand and contribute to resolving complex inter-connected problems and policy challenges in the town and country planning system for others in public, private or civic sectors.

Publications


10 25 50
 
Description On-going project will update as the research progresses.
Sector Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services
 
Description Collaboration with the Ordnance Survey 
Organisation Ordnance Survey
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Meeting to discuss data opportunities to inform NCPT and explore links with the Ordnance Survey GI datasets.
Collaborator Contribution Data sharing / discussion
Impact "On going
Start Year 2017
 
Description Conference presentation (ENVECON 2016) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Conference presentation on the development of the NCPT Tool and its relevance to Natural Capital.
Presented by Oliver Holzinger at The Royal Society; 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, St. James's, London SW1Y 5AG.
Talk: Planning for Sustainable Land-Use: The Natural Capital Planning Tool (NCPT)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Conference presentation at ECOBUILD 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Present and discuss NCPT and project at seminar 'Natural Capital - the business case for Green Infrastructure'
Venue: ExCeL London, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, London E16 1XL
Date: 9th March 2017
Presenter: Oliver Holzinger
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Ecosystem Knowledge Network Webinar (EKN online) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Introduce and discuss project, NCPT functionality and scoring exercise. 19th Jan 2017.
Webinar leader: Oliver Holzinger
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description First Steering Group Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The first steering group meeting was held on April 29th 2016 to draw together partners with the view to co-creating activities within Workpackage 2 of the grant (NCPT training, ground-truthing, and translation). Partners agreed to engage with this aspect and create training/workshops for their organizations (both private industry, NGOs, and planning departments).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Meeting Birmingham City Council 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Meeting to discuss Birmingham Sustainable Urban Extension case study for the NCPT Tool.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Meeting with Birmingham City Council 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Meeting to discuss the NCPT application for the Birmingham Sustainable Urban Extension case study and business case options assessed by Alice Franchina.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Meeting with Shropshire Council on 21/07/2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Meeting to discuss the opportunities for Shropshire to become a case study partner
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Meeting with Solihull Council 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Meeting: Presenting and discussing NCPT, project and how to move forward with core case study group
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description NCPT KE-Workshop: Central Bedfordshire Council 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Ran a KTP Workshop for case study partner organisation This is part of embedding changed practice in planning policy and linked to WP2 of the grant.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description NCPT KE-Workshop: South Downs National Park Authority - linked to WP2 of the grant. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Ran a KTP Workshop for case study partner organisation This is part of embedding changed practice in planning policy and linked to WP2 of the grant.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Paper on the online journal 'The Conversation UK' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This is a provocative thought piece written by the grant CI (Professor Alister Scott) entitled Should Britain build on its green spaces to solve the housing crisis? It has been widely distributed on social media. See link for current statistics:


It has (as of today 16.3.17) been tweeted 77 times, had 197 Facebook shares and been cited in LinkedIn 29 times. There is also a lengthy (17 comment discussion of the piece).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://theconversation.com/should-britain-build-on-its-green-spaces-to-solve-the-housing-crisis-725...
 
Description Presentation at conference - Greater Manchester Natural Capital Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Present and discuss NCPT and project at conference workshop 'Using innovative tools to identify multiple Natural Capital opportunities'
Venue: The Lowry, Lowry Outlet, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ
Date: 1/2/2017
Presenter: Oliver Holzinger
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016