As we sit down to write this, we are once again facing the uncertainty that seems to have been the hallmark of this pandemic, with the threat of the Omicron variant potentially disrupting and constraining the opportunities for us all to reconnect with friends and families over the Christmas break. However, we continue to be truly humbled by the strength and resilience of our whole team. As a company we have been able to develop our systems to enable us to work effectively to support our clients and projects and we would like to thank you for the continued support and opportunities that you have provided, and the feeling of a collective endeavour that we have experienced across the board.
More widely despite the current political hiatus, it is wonderful to feel the country pulling together through the vaccination booster programme. The fantastic work of both the NHS and the volunteers that have included several our staff, has been inspirational.
Throughout everything the environment has continued to hold its own, with repeated references to a ‘green recovery’ clearly signalling the political mood music. The recent COP26 summit highlighted the need for change to protect our future security on the planet during a series of heartfelt statements. Lockhart Garratt are at the heart of this space, with a wealth of understanding and experience helping to shape policy and support you and your businesses to thrive and develop opportunities.
Influencing the Environmental Sector
In November the Environment Act finally passed into law with the mandatory requirement for a 10% uplift in biodiversity for all development from 2023.
This summer saw the publication of the third iteration of the Defra Metric and the launch of the beta version of the Environmental Benefits from Nature Tool, looking more widely at the whole suite of natural capital benefits. Through our excellent Ecology team, we continue to be in the forefront of this space and were delighted that Andrew Thompson of Natural England, who has led this work was able to speak at our autumn Business Breakfast.
We continue to work with the Building with Nature benchmark and were delighted to be joined by Dr Gemma Jerome at our webinar in May. We are now excited to be liaising with clients to shape major projects and secure sustainable benefits under this Green Infrastructure focused standard. This autumn has also seen the launch of Natural England’s landmark Green Infrastructure Framework and Mapping Tool, a key outcome of the 25 Year Environment Plan. Lockhart Garratt have been at the heart of this work with Ian Dudley, our Head of Landscape Architecture, having been involved with the project advisory group throughout the process.
More widely in the agricultural space we continue to work closely with Defra and other stakeholders on the Test and Trials Programme, helping shape the development of the emerging Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) to help it to effectively deliver its objectives.
Forestry and Woodlands
Woodland creation continues to retain its high profile as the flagship land use change in assisting the UK to achieve net zero by 2050, whilst delivering a wide range of other environmental services. The launch of the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) in May heralded the first step to really engage farmers and landowners in a discussion around the business case for new woodland as a viable part of rural business.
We continue to work right at the heart of this agenda, helping to shape the development of incentives and structures to support the sector through John Lockhart’s role on the Forest Services Board and the Defra Planting on Private Land Project Board
As one of the founding partners of Forest Canopy Foundation, we have been working closely with Nicholsons, Pryor and Rickett and Grown in Britain, and are now seeing real investment coming into the sector, blending effectively with the public sector funding to offer genuine economic opportunities.
Following work with the Woodland Trust we also secured the consultancy contract to support Defra with the development of opportunities for woodland creation on vacant and derelict land. We would like to thank all of those who have been willing to share their experience and knowledge in this exciting area and look forward to seeing real opportunities coming forward in 2022.
With so much focus on planting trees it is easy to forget our existing woodlands that have so often been considered the poor relation. We continue to see good timber prices and are hopeful that woodlands will be an important component of the emerging ELM scheme in recognition of the vast range of public benefits they deliver.
Landscape Planning and Design
During these strange times, the concept of place and the value of accessible spaces for recreation, health and wellbeing, as well as biodiversity, continue to increase in importance. Throughout 2021, we have strengthened our landscape services in both the planning and design spaces. In particular our work on flagship projects has allowed us to bring together our breath of understanding and expertise to work together to deliver high quality, truly multifunctional spaces, that can support both biodiversity and wellbeing to take your schemes to a level of excellence.
The importance of soils is growing with an enhanced understanding of their role for both carbon and wider natural capital. Our soils service continues to evolve with ground-breaking work on high profile projects, including ancient woodland translocation and development of bio-cover solutions for old landfills in conjunction with the Defra Vacant and Derelict Land project.
Trees and Arboriculture
The last few years has seen the profile of trees and their importance in our urban and rural landscapes becoming more widely recognised. Their value is further reflected in the protections embedded in the recent Environment Act.
The coming years will see many challenges for our tree resource both from development, but also the complex portfolio of pests and diseases. At Lockhart Garratt we will provide you with the understanding and expertise that will enable you to plot a clear pathway through the challenges and opportunities.
We are currently just finalising our updated ash dieback guidance booklet, which aims to provide landowners with the ability to identify the symptoms of ash dieback, understanding of the benefits that ash trees provide, information on the potential impacts of ash dieback and advice on a reasonable approach to managing infected ash trees.
This continues to be one of our key focuses and working collectively across the sector is something that is at the heart of our culture. As we have noted above, we have offered a regular programme of online webinars and many of our team have contributed to publications and events including a Landscape and Visual Impact Masterclass for the Landscape Institute.
We were delighted to see the return of face-to-face events in the autumn and look forward to presenting further valuable insights and training opportunities from leaders across the sector in 2022.
Our team of dedicated staff continue deliver at the highest level. They have all met the challenges with energy and fortitude and have been inspirational in the way they have adapted to changing circumstances, supporting both you as our clients and each other. It continues to be truly humbling.
We aspire to achieve the Gold Standard for Investors in People in the coming year.
We are at a turning point in the environmental land management space. The need for real and sustainable change, as highlighted at the recent COP26 conference, and the changing landscape in both the development and land management sectors present us with both challenges and massive opportunities.
As these matters are discussed both within corporate boardrooms and across farm kitchen tables, expertise and real experience will be key to enabling you to meet the challenges and take advantage of the emerging opportunities. At Lockhart Garratt we have been working in this space for decades and we look forward to providing you with the professional support and understanding you need.
2022 will undoubtedly see many changes, but we look forward to these with real excitement and energy and a continued focus to provide an efficient, high quality and up to date service for our clients.
2022 Desktop Calendar
On the back of amazing demand, we have decided to bring back our much-loved paper desktop calendar. We are in the final stages of production but will be able to share this with you early in the New Year.
We will at the same time continue with our digital, desktop version. For those of you that have not explored this, it is updated each month and will provide you with a large selection of stunning photographs all captured by our staff and colleagues throughout the year. We hope that this will bring much enjoyment in whatever format you choose for 2022.
Thank you so much for all your support over the last year. We continue to grow and develop our services to be stronger, whilst effectively adapting ready to face the challenges and opportunities that 2022 will bring.
Everyone at Lockhart Garratt wishes you and your families all the best for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
John, Justin, Ian, Dionne and all the staff at Lockhart Garratt