Consultation document

Theme 1: protecting and enhancing our natural environment

One of the key features of our borough is the high quality and biodiverse natural environment which is of international, national and local importance. We have a duty to conserve and enhance the environment and the Local Plan has a key role in conserving, restoring and enhancing sites of biodiversity importance, as well as priority habitats and ecological networks.

Currently the borough hosts an extensive network of green spaces which contribute to its natural capital and provides recreational and leisure opportunities. Access to these spaces is highly-valued by our residents and they have told us which spaces are of particular value to the community which they would like to see designated as Local Green Space.


A road sign and view of a park


Growth and new development will inevitably place greater pressure on the natural environment and resources. It will be the role of the Local Plan to balance these pressures and protect and enhance the borough's natural capital, increase resilience to climate change, manage flood risk and minimise that impact from development and secure environmental improvements.

There is a strong local commitment to respond to climate change, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, improve air quality and biodiversity in the borough. Many residents have highlighted their concern that growth and new development should not be at the expense of the environment.


To conserve and enhance our natural environment, we are considering the following policy directions:

Green and blue infrastructure

  • Maintaining and enhancing the borough's multifunctional green and blue (waterways) infrastructure network.
  • Ensuring access to good-quality, well maintained public open spaces to help improve physical and mental health.
  • Introducing and protecting Local Green Space designations that are valued by the community.
  • Promoting and enhancing the role of trees, open spaces and landscaping in adapting to the impacts of climate change, their biodiversity benefits, and their role in creating pleasant and attractive environments and improving mental health.


A group of adolescents working in a volunteer group planting trees 

Improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions

  • Encouraging active and sustainable transport within the borough to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and promote air quality improvements.
  • Supporting pro-active interventions to enable a more sustainable, low carbon future for Elmbridge eg introduction of a borough car clubs and an electric vehicle charging point network and that new development contributes to delivering a 'destination led' network (home-business-retail/ leisure-home).
  • Promoting sustainable design and construction principles to reduce the associated carbon dioxide emissions of all new development.
  • Exploring inclusion of targets for minimising Carbon Dioxide emissions including the requirement of zero carbon developments and reduction beyond maximum allowable emissions set out in Building Regulations.


An electric car at a charging station

Conserving and enhancing biodiversity

  • Conserving and enhancing the borough's biodiversity, especially where there are recognised habitats, species and sites.
  • Supporting Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) to provide alternative areas for residents to visit and to protect sensitive internationally protected habitats found within the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA).
  • Improving ecology and ensure that all new development results in biodiversity net gains.
  • Promoting mitigation and avoidance of light pollution which can be harmful to local biodiversity as well as residential amenity.

Waste and resource management

  • Supporting the optisimation of development land and ensuring that development proposals represent an efficient use of the borough's land supply and contributes to meeting local development needs.
  • Continuing to resist inappropriate development in the Green Belt, except where justified applying national policy.
  • Encouraging the prudent use of natural resources and supporting the use of sustainable construction materials and methods in accordance with the waste hierarchy.
  • Ensuring new buildings and conversions are water and energy efficient and promoting the principles of the energy hierarchy.
  • Promoting the incorporation of water conservation devices and recycling techniques in new development to improve water efficiency. Exploring the requirement for new homes to achieve water use of no greater than 110L per person per day.
  • Improving river and ground water quality and continue to work with the Environment Agency and other stakeholders on flood mitigation and resilience schemes.


Pyramid diagram showing the 4 steps of energy hierarchy which are to use less energy, supply energy efficiently, use renewable energy and offset

Diagram 6: Energy hierarchy


Pyramid diagram showing the 5 steps of waste hierarchy which are prevention, prevention for re-use, recycling, other recovery and disposal

Diagram 7: Waste hierarchy


Do you agree with the proposed policy directions?

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Do you have any other comments (for example, other issues or directions we should consider?)

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