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Welcome to the Winter issue of the Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Natural Environment Partnership newsletter!

Our newsletter contains updates on some of the projects we are working on, as well as relevant local and national news with an impact on the natural environment.

Green Infrastructure Mapping

In collaboration with our partners, the NEP has now published a map of large-scale, strategic Green Infrastructure Opportunity Zones in Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes. The map accompanies the NEP’s earlier Vision and Principles for the Improvement of Green Infrastructure in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes.  We will use it to highlight to developers, infrastructure providers, planners and other stakeholders the existing value of green and blue infrastructure in our landscape, the multiple benefits it provides, the major threats that the zones of GI face and the types of opportunities that could be available if development plans for GI early and strategically at all scales.  The map has been produced in collaboration with our partners using data, knowledge and expertise and is available alongside an accompanying document which explains what was done, why and how, along with details of the opportunities within each zone.

You can view, explore and download the map on the NEP website.

Biodiversity Matters

The NEP is working on a major initiative to design and implement a biodiversity accounting scheme to strive towards ensuring net gains in biodiversity are achieved as a result of the unprecedented scale of development expected in our area in the coming years.  We are working with Warwickshire County Council, which already operates a successful biodiversity accounting scheme, to design a scheme for Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes, alongside a metric for accounting for changes in biodiversity as a result of development, based on the national “Defra” metric and expected updates).  

We have been working to ensure that all Local Plans in our area commit to measurable net biodiversity gain and apply the mitigation hierarchy (the appropriate order for ensuring any biodiversity loss is avoided in the first place, or compensated for on a development site before any off-site offsets would be considered).  Further details will be produced in a forthcoming model “supplementary planning document” (SPD) available for all local authorities in our area to adopt, alongside the metric, guidance notes and details of the workings of the scheme. 

For more information, please see the Biodiversity Accounting project page. Updates will be provided as they become available and we will keep you informed on major developments via our newsletter. 

Our Voice in Planning

The NEP actively engages on local planning issues as well as regional, national and infrastructure planning issues that affect Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes. In addition to bespoke responses to all of our Local Authority partners as they advance through the Local Plan process, we have formally responded to Network Rail’s East-West Rail Consultation, the consultation on the new National Planning Policy Framework, Heathrow Airport Expansion Consultation, DCLG consultation proposals, and the Draft New London Plan, among others. The NEP will continue to respond to relevant consultations and work with our Local Authority Partners to encourage alignment to the NEP’s strategic aims for the environment of Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes. 

For more information, visit our Planning project page.

Thank you for getting Bucks Buzzing!

Bucks Buzzing is the NEP's pollinator awareness project, which helps residents and organisations get their patch of Bucks & Milton Keynes buzzing with increased habitat for pollinating insects like butterflies, hoverflies and bees.

This summer we supplied wildflower seeds to over 400 people to help get their patch buzzing, as well as raising awareness through social media, radio interviews, and local press. 

We've been able to provide support to a number of projects, both large and small, and worked with schools, community groups, and some of our partner organisations. You can read more about these projects on our Bucks Buzzing Case Studies page.

If you have an idea to get your patch of Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes buzzing, we'd love to hear from you. Get in touch with us on

Oxford to Cambridge Expressway

On 12 September, the Department for Transport announced that ‘Corridor B’ had been selected as the preferred option for the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway.  Highways England will now work up options for the specific route choice. Click here for more information about the Expressway (external link).

One of our partners, the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), has expressed profound concerns about the corridor chosen.  Estelle Bailey, Chief Executive of BBOWT said, “the potential impact on biodiversity of corridor B is so serious that the route should have been discounted entirely”. BBWOT is launching a legal challenge on the basis that no Strategic Environmental Assessment was completed. Click here to read BBOWT's response in full (external link).

Natural Capital Investment Planning for the Oxfordshire-Milton Keynes-Cambridge Growth Corridor – Report

The NEP has been involved in the production of a report on natural capital planning in the growth corridor. The work was led by the Bedfordshire Local Nature Partnership in conjunction with other Local Nature Partnerships (Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Bucks and Milton Keynes) in the Growth Corridor and the local authorities in Oxford.  This work was recently completed and was funded in the main by a grant from Defra.

The area between Oxford and Cambridge covers some of the fastest-growing and most economically productive parts of England yet has an incredibly diverse environmental landscape which is highly valued by the millions of people who live in or near the area.  Environmental protection and enhancement will be critical to achieving the ambitions of the Government and the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) for the Corridor. 

To achieve this, the report’s recommendations include:

  • a strategic natural capital and environment plan is developed for the corridor, of the same level and importance as the industrial, housing and transport strategies
  • designated individuals should be accountable for the environment in the growth corridor governance arrangements at all levels
  • mechanisms are in place along the corridor to deliver net biodiversity and environmental gains

The project examined the need for a natural capital investment plan to accompany the Corridor proposals, and reviewed the relevant information and guidance available, basing its approach on the Natural Capital Committee’s How to do it workbook

The Executive Summary is now available to read and download from the Bedfordshire LNP website, pending the publication of the full report (external link).

Unitary Announcement

A new, single unitary council for Buckinghamshire was announced by the Secretary of State on 1 November. The Rt. Hon James Brokenshire states in a written ministerial statement that it is clear there is ‘broad consent for change in Buckinghamshire’:

“Given the desire and thrust for change and innovation in Buckinghamshire, that the five councils agree that the current structures are not sustainable, and that the locally-led proposal for a single unitary is the only proposal that meets the three criteria, I am persuaded that the right course of action is to establish a new single unitary district council for Buckinghamshire.”

The full ministerial statement is available online (external link).

And finally, we'd like to wish you a merry Christmas and happy holidays, with best wishes for the new year. See you in 2019!

This is the first issue of our partner newsletter. If you have news or events that you would like us to share, please get in touch. Our Spring issue will be published in March 2019.

Data protection: We value all of our members, partners and supporters. We will look after all the information that we hold, we will never sell or share your information. Our full data protection policy can be found on our website.

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Copyright © 2018 Bucks & Milton Keynes Natural Environment Partnership, All rights reserved.

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