Applying a Natural Capital Approach to Sustainability Appraisal

Understanding how natural capital approaches fit with existing regulations and practice
This project will support two local councils within the specially designated North Devon Biosphere Reserve area to trial a new approach to Sustainability Appraisal.

For the natural capital approach to work as a tool for improved environmental management and decision making, we need to understand better how it fits with existing regulations and practice, how such existing practice could be modified, and to provide methods and guidance for managers and decision makers trying to apply the approach on the ground. We held a workshop with planners and regulators to discuss using the natural capital approach to support local planning decisions. The participants identified Sustainability Appraisal as an appropriate place to start.  Planning authorities are required by law to carry out a Sustainability Appraisal on local and marine plans to assess the effects of different plan options on the environment, society and the economy. The holistic approach offered by the natural capital approach seemed like a very good fit to these objectives, and there is enough flexibility in the format of Sustainability Appraisal to allow new approaches to be attempted.

This project will work closely with Partners at North Devon District Council, and Torridge District Council, using the North Devon and Torridge Local Plan, and the North Devon Marine Natural Capital Plan in developing an operational framework for a natural capital focussed sustainability appraisal.

Professor Melanie Austen
SWEEP Marine Co-Lead
Dr Tara Hooper
SWEEP Project Principal Investigator
Tom Mullier
Dr Sian Rees
SWEEP Co-Investigator and Senior Impact Fellow

Siân is a Senior Research Fellow based at the University of Plymouth’s Marine Institute who brings over 14 years of experience in marine conservation, marine management and policy to the SWEEP team. Siân has a strong track record in utilising social science research methods to inform ecosystem-based management and the implementation of Natural Capital approaches. Siân has worked in an advisory capacity for UK Government, the European Commission and the Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Funded by: