This interview was originally published on The Planner


“Anne Selby is the chief executive of Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and Merseyside, chair of the Greater Manchester Natural Capital Group and a qualified planner. She is leading on the Greater Manchester natural capital pioneer project (see panel below).

Q. Are the natural capital pioneers an indication that we’re taking environmental maintenance more seriously?

Anne Selby (AS): “We’re in the middle of a paradigm change and sometimes you don’t see that until we come though the shift. I was very cynical with the last prime minister [David Cameron]. A lot of the right words came out [about protecting and enhancing the environment], but it never seemed to ground itself into any funding.

“But Dieter Helm [head of the Natural Capital Committee] has been persevering. I do think this government seems to be committed to delivering the 25-year environment strategy. We are incrementally moving. It’s a very profound change.”

Q. Is natural capital accounting incompatible with more established systems of environmental maintenance, such as biodiversity net gain?

AS: “I think they are mutually beneficial. I think what we need to do in the planning profession is ask ‘What do they mean to a system set up before these ideas emerged?

“It was a system that was about drawing lines on map and saying ‘We’ll protect that bit’. The planning system as it is now isn’t looking at connectivity of ecosystems. How do we get that biodiversity net gain and natural capital accounting into a planning system that was not set up for that? I think we should take that out for a spin in the Greater Manchester pioneer.”…”

Read on at: The Planner.