Agenda item

Draft Environment Strategy

To receive and discuss the Draft Environment Strategy.


The Scrutiny Panel received a report and a presentation from the Director of Environment which reminded members that Oldham Council had declared a climate emergency in September 2019 and had committed to achieving carbon naturality by 2025, with boroughwide carbon neutrality by 2030.  The council was presently working towards its declared targets as part of the Green New Deal, and this approach ties in with that of Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s 5 Year Environmental Plan. 


The GMCA plan had six main strands; in Oldham; three of the strands were covered as part of the Green New Deal and, the other three stands, detailed below, were to be covered through the Environment Strategy. 


·         Climate Adaptation and Resilience

·         Production and Consumption of Resources, and,

·         The Natural Environment


The Environment Strategy would apply until 2025, after which, the strategy was expected to be reviewed and then synced with that of the Greater Manchester Environment Plan – this would allow synergy in approach with Oldham’s Greater Manchester partners and the Green New Deal, but would also allow Oldham to focus its resource and attention on areas that are relevant and specific to its unique geography, climatic and environmental challenges, especially around adaptation and resilience.


The report also recognised, as part of the three strands above, that there were other key areas and regulatory regimes that would feed into the Environment Strategy and which required to be incorporated into the planning and delivery of the Councils environmental aims and objectives.  These were:


·         City of Trees – The Council aims to plant an additional 1,000 tress and five hectares of woodland each year from 2024.  This will take place in conjunction with City of Trees, which is delivered at a Greater Manchester level.  Oldham has taken the lead in identifying sites that are suitable for planting trees and these have been put forward to maximise the number of trees that could be planted in Oldham – both in public areas as well as dedicated greenspaces such as country parks and our larger urban parks/networks


·         Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) – BNG is a new requirement, coming into effect from Autumn 2023 and one that applies to all planning developments.  The aim of this is to ensure that all developments through the planning process result in a ‘biodiversity net gain’ of 10% and this will be delivered at a Greater Manchester level. 


Developers cannot be compelled to make the investment in the area where the development is taking place – they can do this at a national level.  In order to maximise the gain at a local level, Oldham Council Planning Services were working closely with the Environment Directorate to identify suitable areas and to then raise these at Greater Manchester level to ensure they are considered when developments are taking place.


·         Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS) – The government introduced legislation under the Environment Act 2021 outlining measures to support the reversal in the decline in nature and biodiversity. This included a new mandatory requirement for local areas in England to develop a spatial strategy for nature recovery, referred to as Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS).  The government will provide separate guidance to explain what this means in practice and has previously stated that LNRS will not be a barrier to development, nor will it introduce new/different designations.  


The regulations state that the responsible authority must take reasonable steps to involve all supporting authorities (for Greater Manchester, this includes the 10 Greater Manchester Combined Authorities metropolitan district councils, Natural England and Peak District National Park Authority).  This work will be delivered at a Greater Manchester level but would be delivered locally through planning policy and will completement the councils overall aim to increase green space, trees coverage and biodiversity.


The purpose of presenting this draft Environmental Strategy to this Scrutiny Board meeting was to gain feedback and consideration for the approach being proposed with key elements of the Draft Environment Strategy outlined in the Summary section.



1.    That the Scrutiny Board supports the aims and aspirations of the Draft Environment Strategy for the Borough and endorses actions already taken.

2.    That the Director of Environment be requested to submit a further report to a future meeting of this Scrutiny Board updating members on progress being made.

Supporting documents: