Natural

Objective:

Environmental net gain

Natural Capital logo

Overview

The Natural capital relates to the protection and enhancement of the environment, both within the local context and through contributing to wider climate and biodiversity challenges.

Why do we pursue environmental net gain?

The UK’s new Environment Bill has formalised an expectation of developers to combat these trends, by introducing a requirement for a minimum 10% biodiversity net gain on all new housing schemes.
These policy developments align with our strategic vision to leave the natural and physical environment in a measurably better state than before. We want to create beautiful, sustainable and community focused places with nature at the core of all our development sites. 

What is the journey?

To achieve this objective, we have identified three action areas to provide a strategic focus for our efforts and commitments: first, to leverage our landscape-led design to deliver environmental net gain with a focus on planting new trees; second, to achieve enhanced biodiversity through  avoiding and minimising negative impacts on biodiversity before compensating through the creation of ecologically rich habitats on-site; and third, to maximise resource efficiency and the resilience of environmental ecosystems. The importance of biodiversity net gain is highlighted through its inclusion as one of our three universal challenges.

Developed landscaping

Our focus in this area is the targeted provision of an incredible element of green infrastructure: new trees. Trees are one of the most powerful weapons in the fight against climate change, removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. In addition, they can help to prevent flooding, reduce temperature and pollution, and keep soil rich in nutrients. Providing more of them is also directly linked to addressing two of the three universal challenges we have identified as being relevant to sustainability in the built environment: biodiversity and health and wellbeing.

Target

2025 target: 

  • Plant an average of 25 trees for each house occupied by 2025.

Performance

In 2020/21, an average of 31 trees were planted per household across all strategic land sites, exceeding our 2025 target.

Action Area 1 Enhanced landscaping- Connecting people with nature

Graph showing number of trees per household each individual site has planted to date.

Enhanced biodiversity

Our commitment to increasing ecological value on our developments is not new. However, we have redefined our approach to maximise our biodiversity net gain for stronger and more resilient local ecosystems.

Targets

2025 target: 

  • Achieve a 12% biodiversity net gain as a minimum overall on all our sites.

Performance

Average BNG in 2020/21 was 8.7%, significantly up on the year before. If biodiversity continues to increase across all sites at the current rate, the 2025 target as an average across all
sites will be achieved.

Action Area 2 Enhanced biodiversity- Net gain on our sites

Graph showing average biodiversity net gain data for each individual site over the 2019/20 and 2020/21 reporting periods

Resource efficiency

Resource efficiency is of paramount importance to us. We seek to maximise the incorporation of key circular economy principles in our schemes to ensure efficient use of natural resources and the minimisation of waste sent to landfill. We will also collaborate with our housebuilder partners to define suitable targets for water consumption in dwellings and recycling rates.

Target

2025 target: 

  • Divert from landfill a minimum of 92% construction and demolition waste.

Performance

In 2020/21, 94.5% of construction and demolition waste by weight from community buildings and infrastructure delivered by Urban&Civic was diverted from landfill, exceeding the 2025 target.

Action Area 3 Resource efficiency- Championing the circular economy

Graph tracking the total demolition and construction waste diverted from landfill as a percentage of waste generated on all Urban&Civic developments.

Case studies

New woodland area for Priors Hall School

As part of Urban&Civic’s wider landscape works at Priors Hall we have delivered and planted 550 trees, including three mature 4.5m silver birch trees, apple trees, alder buckthorn, field maple, hornbeam and shrubby honeysuckle amongst others, to create a forest garden within Priors Hall Primary School.

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Exploring Wintringham

Urban&Civic has put health and wellbeing at the heart of Wintringham, and the team has worked hard to create something really special; with space for people to enjoy, space for nature to thrive, and space where people and nature can co-exist in harmony.

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Wild Weald: Discovering local wildlife

Over the last year, there has been a surge of interest in nature and wildlife in the local area. To help explore the network of green corridors, pockets of woodlands, grassland and waterway at Alconbury Weald, naturalist and TV presenter Mike Dilger hosted a series of ‘Wild Weald’ events to introduce residents to the abundance of wildlife on their doorstep.

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Really Wild

Outdoor activities were high on the agenda at Houlton in Summer 2021. May saw the return of the popular Really Wild at Houlton Event where TV Presenter Mike Dilger spent two days on site educating residents on ecology, wildlife, and vegetation.

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Wintringham Brook restoration

The historic brooks at Wintringham will be reinvigorated by the development as blue networks running east to west and ultimately connecting up to the Great Ouse as it works its way through St Neots. 

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