Geodiversity central to the London Plan




The draft London Plan published in August last year has followed a growing trend amongst authorities in considering and preserving their geo-diversity. Geodiversity can often be overlooked; however, it is being referred to with increasing frequency in nature conservation and planning policy, and now within the London Plan.

What is geodiversity and why is it important?

Geodiversity is defined as: ‘The natural range (diversity) of geological (rocks, minerals, fossils), geomorphological (landform and processes), soil and hydrological features.’ It also points to wider land quality considerations as they relate to development proposals as geodiversity provides attractive settings for new developments, supports biodiversity, as well as providing valuable attributes such as flood alleviation and drainage.

Britain has more geological diversity than any other comparable area in the world but also significant challenges with soil degradation through farming and various forms of development. Developing an understanding of geodiversity and what that provides therefore contributes to sustainable development and the management of our natural resources.

These natural resources also include groundwater, and extractive materials such as brick clay, chalk for cement and gravel for aggregates. Geodiversity is also important in mitigating against natural subsidence and unstable ground conditions.

Geodiversity and the London Plan

The London Plan has made geodiversity a primary focus alongside biodiversity as a fundamental cornerstone of London’s plans for the future. The Plan states the importance of geology and considers its importance on where developments are built, how buildings are constructed and how associated services are delivered.

The Plan aims to protect, promote and enhance geodiversity with the support of the London Mayor. It also recognises geodiversity sites for their importance in providing habitats for biodiversity and in allowing delivery of ecosystem services.

Geodiversity and Development

Geodiversity contributes greatly to development, providing both opportunities and constraints that need to be understood and managed.

As part of the commitment to geo-diversity, the Plan specifies that new developments should maintain or enhance the geodiversity of Geological Conservation Review (GCR) sites and also Local Geodiversity Sites, and maintain the integrity of and access to geodiversity sites of interest for education and enjoyment.

Scheme promoters and their advisors therefore need to consider, manage and enhance geodiversity as an integral part of their development plans.

For more information about geo-diversity and land quality aspects, please call our geo-environmental team on 0845 676 9303 or email