The Greater Thames Marshes NIA sits within a region under intense pressures for development, from the need to provide more housing to supporting economic growth in the UK. High quality green spaces can support these objectives, but for the NIA to succeed, we need to use innovative mechanisms to ensure development doesn’t come at the cost of the natural environment.

Planning Policy Advice

Using best practice demonstrated in other NIAs, the Greater Thames Marshes NIA has commissioned the development of a planning policy guidance note to support Local Authorities and developers.

This Advice Note has been produced to ensure that the aims and objectives of the Greater Thames Marshes Nature Improvement Area (the NIA) are incorporated into Local Plans and development proposals. It contains a suggested policy that should be incorporated into Local Plans in line with the National Planning Policy Framework paragraph 117, development management advice, and a list of expected enhancements that can be incorporated into all scales of development.

This guidance note is now available for download.

Biodiversity Offsetting

By extending and adding value to existing studies, the NIA will test the effectiveness of recent innovations to deliver environmental benefits in an area that is under intensive pressure for change.

Biodiversity Offsetting is a market-based conservation tool designed to offer an improved mechanism for developers and local planning authorities to achieve no-net-loss of biodiversity from development activity.

Defra has announced six pilot schemes to test this approach, one of these is being led by Essex County Council in partnership with six lower-tier authorities, including Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford and Thurrock. Click here to find out more about Biodiversity Offsetting.

The NIA funding will be used to uplift s.106 money to develop an exemplar scheme in the Thames Estuary. We will develop this into a case study and showcase our experiences to planners, developers and decision makers, making this NIA a national trailblazer.

Bird Disturbance and Sustainable Access Management

The North Kent Environmental Planning Group previously commissioned a study to help planners and developers make informed decisions about the relationship between shore based recreation and disturbance to birds, building on techniques developed in the Exe and Solent estuaries. Key findings included:

  • 37% of potential disturbance events that occurred on inter-tidal habitat resulted in a major flight
  • dog walkers accounted for 55% of all major bird flight observations, with a further 15% attributed to walkers without dogs

The GTM NIA is building on this work by commissioning further work to identify management toolkit for recreational activities which provide a direct link to need. This will enable the NIA to work with partners to identify best practice management at key sites to maintain a healthy balance between recreational use and conservation.

The Bird Disturbance Report is now available for download.

The Strategic Mitigation Report is now available for download. The North Kent Environmental Planning Group are leading on the implementation of the recommendations Рfor further information, please contact us.