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Planning and Strategic Background


The conservation and enhancement of biodiversity within the PLA's area of jurisdiction is subject to a substantial body of policy and guidance, set out in a combination of statutory documents such as the London Plan and non-statutory guidelines such as biodiversity action plans (although the London Mayor's Biodiversity Strategy is a statutory document). The main contributors to this planning and strategic background are summarised here, with links to the full policies or plans as appropriate.

It is recommended that a statement is drawn up clarifying the means by which the PLA considers and has regard to these policies and guidance in its decision making processes.

The London Plan

The Spatial Development Strategy for Greater London -the London Plan - was published in February 2004 and remains in force until the Replacement Plan is adopted, probably in late 2011. It is a "strategic plan setting out an integrated social, economic and environmental framework for the future development of London, looking forward 15-20 years". The Plan includes policies on biodiversity, habitat and species, and a set of policies on the Blue Ribbon Network, which includes the Thames and tidal tributaries.

Policy 3D.14 Biodiversity and nature conservation

This policy requires new development and regeneration to have regard to nature conservation and biodiversity, and to seek opportunities to achieve positive gains for conservation. It provides for the identification of Sites of Metropolitan Importance (SMIs) and requires Boroughs to give strong protection to these sites (in addition to statutorily designated sites) in their Development Planning Documents. The Thames and tidal tributaries is identified as a SMI. The supporting text includes (table 3D.2) a target for the Tidal Thames to conserve priority habitats and to create 1 saltmarsh and/or mudflat (area not specified) by 2015.

Policy 4C.3 The natural value of the Blue Ribbon Network

"The Mayor will and boroughs should protect and enhance the biodiversity of the Blue Ribbon Network by:

  • resisting development that results in a net loss of biodiversity
  • designing new waterside developments in ways that increase habitat value
  • allowing development into the water space only when it serves a water-dependent purpose or is a truly exceptional case which adds to London’s world city status
  • taking opportunities to open culverts, naturalise river channels
  • protecting the value of the foreshore of the River Thames"

 Click here to download the full document (opens in a new window).

Under the proposed Replacement Plan new policies will be adopted as follows:

Proposed new Policy 7.19 Biodiversity and Access to Nature

This policy, if adopted, will contain provisions broadly similar to those in existing policy 3D.14.

Proposed new Policies 7.24 -7.28 Blue Ribbon Network

Policy 7.28 Restoration of the Blue Ribbon Network

This policy, if adopted, will include a provision stating that " Development that reduces biodiversity should be refused".

The provisions of the Replacement Plan will be taken account of in the next review of this CMF.

London Borough Development Planning Documents

15 Boroughs and the City of London have a frontage with the Tidal Thames. Their DPDs are in various stages of evolution and the current adopted policies may be in either Unitary Development Plans or Local Development Frameworks, depending upon the state of progress. These documents include policies, in somewhat differing forms, consistent with the policies in the London Plan on biodiversity and the Blue Ribbon Network.

The Mayor's Biodiversity Strategy

This document, finalised in July 2002 and adopted by the current administration, sets out a strategic overview for the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity in the capital. Mirroring the London Plan, it contains a policy on the Blue Ribbon Network (Policy 2, page 55) and two proposals linked to this (Proposals 19 and 20, page 56).

Click here to download the full document (opens in a new window).

London Biodiversity Partnership Biodiversity Action Plan

The aspect of the LBP’s BAP dealing with the PLA’s key areas of interest is the Tidal Thames Action Plan. This was produced by the Thames Estuary Partnership's Biodiversity Action Group in January 2002. It contains five strategic objectives for the Tidal Thames, each of which has a number of associated actions; in many cases a target date is mentioned that has now passed. In four cases the PLA is named as a partner in their delivery.

Objective 1: Ensure that strategic plans and initiatives recognise the biodiversity importance of the Tidal Thames
Action in which PLA is a partner:  Ensure ecologically sensitive sites are communicated to local authorities and other relevant bodies to minimise environmental impacts, by developing annotated maps of sensitive locations consistent with county initiatives.

Objective 2:  Secure appropriate management for existing and new habitats and species

Objective 3:  Increase scientific knowledge and understanding of estuarine habitats and species
Action in which PLA is a partner:  Collate existing information on the impacts of recreation/river use/development and biodiversity.

Objective 4:  To create new areas of riverine habitat
Action in which PLA is a partner:  Identify sites most suitable for habitat creation and disseminate information to local planning authorities and statutory agencies.

Objective 5:  Increase public understanding and appreciation of the habitats and species of the Tidal Thames
Action in which PLA is a partner:  Coordinate foreshore events within each reach of the Tidal Thames to promote public appreciation of the Tidal Thames wildlife.

Click here for more information (opens in a new window).

The South East Plan

The Secretary of State purported to revoke this and all other Regional Spatial Strategies (with the exception of the London Plan) on 6 July 2010. However this revocation was quashed by the High Court on 10 Novemember 2010, on the grounds that the SoS lacked the necessary legal powers to do so. Formal abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies is included as a clause in the Decentralisation and Localism Bill. Pending the Bill passing into legislation the following policy remains technically in existence.

Policy C7 The River Thames Corridor

This Policy describes the River Thames as a major natural asset to the region, which is of regional and inter-regional significance. It sets out objectives by which local policy and principles should be guided, for the natural environment, for the built environment and to promote, protect and enhance the use of the river. The objectives for the natural environment are:

  • To improve the quality and provision of open space along the river
  • To conserve and enhance the ecology of the river
  • To respect green belt, open land and areas of ecological, conservation and landscape importance

 Click here for more information (opens in a new window).

The East of England Plan

This is the Regional Spatial Strategy for the East of England and was adopted in May 2008. The same issues concerning abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies referred to above apply here also. It contains general policies on biodiversity and countryside and coastal management, but does not have a specific policy dealing with the Thames environment (as distinct from economic regeneration in the Essex Thames Gateway).

Kent Biodiversity Action Plan

This BAP, originally adopted in 1997 and subsequently reviewed. The current review includes two principal habitat action plans with relevance to the PLA’s jurisdiction.

Mudflats Action Plan

Objective 1:  Maintain at least the present extent of Kent’s mudflats

Objective 2:  Maintain, restore and enhance the quality of intertidal mudflats

Objective 3:  Raise awareness, amongst key decision-makers, of the importance of mudflats as an ecological resource

 Click here for more information (opens in a new window).

Coastal and Floodplain Grazing Marsh Action Plan

This plan has general relevance to the PLA’s terrestrial estate at Cliffe Marshes and Allhallows, although the PLA is not listed as either a Lead Partner or an Implementer, and no specific obligations or responsibilities stem from the document.

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Essex Biodiversity Action Plan

There are no Thames-specific actions within this document

Thames Estuary Partnership - Management Guidance for the Thames Estuary

The TEP has produced a number of Management Guidance documents dealing with various aspects of the Estuary’s functions. The two most relevant to this Framework are:

Maintaining and Enhancing Biodiversity

Aim:  To maintain and enhance the diversity and populations of habitats and species supported by the estuary, whilst recognising their fundamental interdependence and history of losses and fragmentation
There are eight associated Principles

Sustainable Commercial Use

Aim:  To ensure that commercial activities continue to thrive and grow in harmony with the valuable nature conservation, heritage, recreation and landscape resources of the estuary,
There are six associated Principles

Click here for more information (opens in a new window). 


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Proceed to Summary of Existing PLA initiatives and resources