Local Environment and Economic Development (LEED) Toolkit

Local Enterprise Partnerships are partnerships between local authorities and businesses throughout England. They have strategic economic planning responsibilities for their areas. The Local Environment and Economic Development (LEED) Toolkit is designed to help Local Enterprise Partnerships and their partners with economic development in ways which:

  • gain growth benefits from the natural environment;
  • help avoid future costs to growth that could arise from the natural environment,

 The LEED Toolkit will also be of interest to enterprise and economic development initiatives elsewhere in the UK.

What is it?

  • The Local Environment and Economic Development (LEED) Toolkit is designed to help Local Enterprise Partnerships and local authorities meet their economic growth targets through explicitly considering the economy’s relationship with the environment: to both maximise benefit and minimise risks.
  • The LEED Toolkit has been produced by the Defra network (the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Forestry Commission), working in partnership with several Local Enterprise Partnerships, local authorities and Local Nature Partnerships in England.
  • The LEED Toolkit offers an easy-to-use, technically robust, systematic and proportionate way of making sense of environmental information in relation to economic planning.
  • The aim of the toolkit is to systematically consider the evidence relating to the local economy/environment relationship in order to reveal opportunities and threats; and consider appropriate responses.
  • The toolkit produces accessible, non-technical outputs that assist strategic economic decision making.

Why do I need it?

  • The economy is critically dependent on the environment, but this relationship is often not given sufficient recognition in economic planning.
  • Assessing environmental information for its relevance to the economy is not straightforward. This results in the environment being insufficiently considered in economic planning.
  • There are significant economic benefits to be gained by considering and embedding the environment in strategic plans.

Who is it for?

  • The toolkit has been produced to support Local Enterprise Partnerships because they have responsibility for strategic planning for sustainable economic growth.
  • Other local organisations such as local authorities and Local Nature Partnerships can be involved in working through the toolkit via a consortium approach, thereby bringing a wider mix of perspectives.

Does it work?

  • The LEED Toolkit has been used by 15 of the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships so far.
  • Local Enterprise Partnerships have found that it highlighted important strategic and operational factors which may otherwise have been overlooked, provided strategic evidence based for economy/environment investment and provided a constructive forum for dialogue with local partners.

What does it involve?

The toolkit has a bespoke structure that can be suited to your need and the resources available. This consists of three levels of engagement:

  • Level 1 is expected to involve 3 days of secretariat time including a one-day workshop and will produce an initial assessment of threats and opportunities.
  • Level 2 is expected to involve 25 days and uses interviews to develop more sophisticated findings.
  • Level 3 focuses on the development of a robust evidence base to support the identification of opportunity and threats and any resulting decisions. This is expected to take 50 days work.

You can start with Level 1 and then decide if there is benefit is undertaking Level 2, and then similarly for Level 3. Each level will provide outputs that can be used to inform economic planning.
Each level can be conducted using in-house resources or contractors, depending on local circumstances.

Toolkit documents

Main Guidance document





Who has used it so far?

The LEED Toolkit has been used by 15 of the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships so far. See the map of take-up across England.

More information

If you would like to explore using the toolkit in your area, please contact Tim Sunderland on 07833 058823 and at tim.sunderland[at]naturalengland.org.uk. He will be able to answer further questions about the toolkit and put you in touch with appropriate local staff.

See also the Ecosystems Knowledge Network web page on the natural environment and local economic development.