Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Biodiversity and species protection in the UK - new policy and regulation, implementation, and achieving a green and sustainable economic recovery

Morning, Thursday, 29th April 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference focuses on priorities for the protection of biodiversity and ecological restoration in the UK, as a new domestic legal and regulatory framework is put in place following exit from the EU.

The conference will be an opportunity to assess the direction of policy and implementation of government pledges, and changes to the regulatory system - as well as to discuss the action required to ensure a green economic recovery, and keep pace with meeting long-term conservation goals.

Delegates will examine:

  • biodiversity policy and legislation, as the UK sets its own pathway following exit from the EU
  • the establishment of the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) and its powers
  • initiatives at a local level, including the Nature Recovery Network (NRN) and Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS)
  • achieving a green economic recovery, and longer-term priorities for species protection and ecological restoration

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the Cabinet Office; DAERA; Defra; DfT; the Environment Agency; the Geospatial Commission; the Government Legal Department; the NAO; NIEA; Ofwat; The Planning Inspectorate; and the Welsh Government

The agenda:

  • UK biodiversity policy going forward - scope, potential and implementation priorities
  • Wildlife protection obligations and the Agriculture Act -  OEP powers, public goods payments, and maximising species restoration
  • Achieving a green economic recovery - investment for natural restoration projects and rolling out nature-based climate solutions
  • Evaluating the economic case for greater biodiversity and ecosystem resilience, and next steps for setting industrywide guidance
  • Practical steps for integrating biodiversity net-gain requirements into the planning system
  • Implementing local approaches to biodiversity protection - designing Local Nature Recovery Strategies, setting guidance for stakeholders, and monitoring processes and outcomes
  • Latest thinking on priorities and the longer term outlook for ecological restoration and biodiversity improvements

A scan of relevant developments:

  • The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review- with Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta outlining options and making recommendations for how policymakers and economists quantify sustainability as part of economic development, and utilise new approaches to accounting for the value of preserving biodiversity and the natural world
  • Biodiversity and Ecosystems  - the Environmental Audit Committee inquiry examining:
    • the current state and quality of biodiversity and ecosystems in the UK
    • policy options that government might develop in order to enhance resilience, meet current targets, and set greater guidance for domestic stakeholders in the space
  • the delayed Environment Bill - transposing European environmental regulation into UK law, and laying the foundations for long-term governance, targets for improvement, and the requirement for achieving biodiversity net-gain throughout the planning process
  • the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) - a new independent regulator to hold government to account on environmental regulation and protection, with investigatory and enforcement powers
  • Interim CEO appointed for Office for Environmental Protection - Natalie Prosser will start her role in February, alongside the newly-appointed Chair-designate, Dame Glenys Stacey
  • the Agriculture Act - establishing a new domestic framework for land management, and setting obligations for stakeholders to enhance environmental, habitat and species protections in exchange for sustainability payments
  • the Nature Recovery Network - as part of the 25 Year Environment Plan, the establishment of the NRN to coordinate partnerships across public, private, community and charity groups for wildlife, nature and habitat restoration across England, and introducing Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS)
  • £80m Green Recovery Challenge Fund - created to support green and nature-based jobs and scaling up projects for nature-based conservation and restoration
  • PM commits to protect 30% of UK land in boost for biodiversity - pledging that current allocations of land designated as national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty will increase to 30% by 2030, helping increase the scope of landscapes and habitats protected by law

Areas for discussion:

  • the UK policy framework - with transition from the EU, priorities for setting domestic policy, rules and guidance on biodiversity and species protection in the UK:
    • next steps on the pathway to achieving long-term targets:
      • where we are now - looking at progress on resource use, efficiency and quality means for conservation
      • what is needed next - the way forward for setting targets and legally-binding biodiversity goals, and providing greater clarity on habitat protection guidance and obligations
    • the OEP:
      • enforcement powers - evaluating the potential scope
      • independence - how to secure its intended separation from policymakers and regulators in monitoring biodiversity and acting on underperformance, and guiding restoration efforts
    • a new land management system - remaining challenges and what is needed for it to be able to fulfil its role for habitat protection and restoration, including discussion on:
      • sustainability payments - the impact on stakeholders, and the support needed to manage the introduction of the new system
      • implementation - priorities for achieving workable improvements to ecosystem and biodiversity resilience
      • public goods - the way forward for their delivery in a way that can offer benefits across society
  • a green and sustainable economic recovery - assessing the steps for how it can be achieved, and ensuring it can translate into biodiversity protection and restoration:
    • conservation funding - the scope and shape of public funding, identifying nature and species projects with long-term natural and economic potential, and developing a broad approach for action including across woodlands, peatlands and wetlands
    • nature-based climate change mitigation - cost effectiveness, overcoming delivery challenges, the scale of landscape change, resource requirements for resilience-building, and how best to prevent and minimise biodiversity loss during and after development
    • stakeholder engagement - including resource-intensive sectors like water, waste and farming, looking at linking goals for restoration with environmental obligations, setting appropriate incentives, and facilitating the growth of nature-based jobs and training
  • biodiversity planning at a local level - and the future of Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) and establishing the Nature Recovery Network (NRN):
    • engagement - across sectors and civic society more widely, fostering partnerships on a national, regional and local level, and public, private and community stakeholder collaboration
    • the NRN - priorities and best practice for sites designated for conservation
    • LNRS design and delivery - agreeing priorities for action on biodiversity, ensuring quality expertise and local participant training, and clarity on duties and responsibilities of local government
    • maximising biodiversity net-gain - clear metrics and thinking on how to prioritise species for protection, best practice, and integrating initiatives across business plans and planning strategies

Policy officials attending:                                            

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons, and officials from the Cabinet Office; DAERA; Defra; the Department for Transport; the Environment Agency; the Geospatial Commission; the Government Legal Department; the National Audit Office; Northern Ireland Environment Agency; Ofwat; The Planning Inspectorate; and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government officials in this area of public policy, together with other stakeholders concerned with or affected by the formulation of biodiversity policy, including conservation bodies, farmland management groups, environmental consultancies, scientific centres, park and garden authorities, farming cooperatives, water companies, local councils, researchers from academia and higher education, as well as reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Dame Glenys Stacey

Chair Designate, Office for Environmental Protection (OEP)

Sally Hayns

Chief Executive Officer, Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management

Tony Juniper

Chair, Natural England


Baroness McIntosh of Pickering

Co-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Water Group and Member, House of Lords EU Environment Sub-Committee

Barry Gardiner MP

Chair, APPG for Nature and former Minister for Biodiversity, Landscape and Rural Affairs


Harry Greenfield

Senior Land Use Policy Adviser, CLA

Dr Caroline Jessel

Chair, Kent Nature Partnership

Professor Liz Fisher

Professor of Environmental Law, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford

Tom Bradshaw

Vice-President, National Farmers Union

Drew Bennellick

Head of Land and Nature Policy UK, National Lottery Heritage Fund

Dr Jim Rouquette

Director, Natural Capital Solutions