Why use the NEAT Tree in Built Environment professions?

  • To move out of our Built Environment silos and start to view the environment and nature more holistically
  • To look at the bigger picture (place, people and environment) within which a particular policy, plan, project or programme (PPPP) is set, recognising interrelationships and dependencies
  • To identify opportunities to embed nature within decision-making processes to improve growth and development interests
  • To secure greater certainty for investment because more complex and longer-term outcomes are clearer and agreed from the start

Reasons to apply the Ecosystem Approach


Managing the built environment is about making better places.  This requires thinking more holistically about the kind of places and society we want embedding multiple benefits principles of equity, environmental and social justice.

Duty to Co-operate

The Duty to Co-operate (Localism Act 2011) requires strategic consultation at appropriate spatial and temporal scales within cross-sector partnerships. This goes beyond just housing matters (e.g. health, transport, economic development, landscape, education and social services) and involves considering the full range of ecosystem services.

National Planning Policy Framework

For the first time, current national planning guidance (National Planning Policy Framework paragraph 109) recognises explicitly the value of ecosystem services as part of a strategy for enhanced ecological connectivity.

The Built Environment has different regulatory environments in Scotland and Wales:


The Land Use Strategy (2011) has specific actions for embedding the Ecosystem Approach.

National Planning Framework 3 (Ambition Opportunity Place, 2013) recognises explicitly the value of ecosystem services within Chapter 3: ‘A Natural Place to Invest’.

A key step in the 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity is to establish plans and decisions about land use based on an understanding of ecosystems, and to take full account of land use impacts on ecosystem services.


The recent Environment Act White Paper ‘Towards the Sustainable Management of Wales’ Natural Resources’ (Welsh Government, 2013) demonstrated a unique statutory duty towards sustainable development.

This is paralleled in the Future Generations Bill on sustainable development, which links back to the sustainable use of natural resources.

The proposed Wales Planning Bill (2014) provides an important opportunity for this thinking to become embedded in the built environment legislation.