The requirement for developers to achieve Biodiversity Net Gain to successfully obtain planning consent is soon to be mandatory through the Environment Bill.
Biodiversity Net Gain is defined as: “Development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before, and an approach where developers works with local governments, wildlife groups, landowners and other stakeholders in order to support their priorities for nature conservation” (Baker, 2019). The UK’s Good Practice Principles for Biodiversity Net Gain (Baker, 2019) provides a framework for development projects to show that they are following good practice.
Biodiversity Net Gain has been described as a measurable target for development projects, where impacts on biodiversity are outweighed by a clear mitigation hierarchy approach to first avoid and then minimise impacts, including through restoration and/or compensation. Adhering to these Biodiversity Net Gain principles will help in underpinning good practice for achieving and sustaining Biodiversity Net Gain. Biodiversity compensation should be planned for a sustained net gain over at least the lifetime of the development (often 25-30 years), with the objective of Biodiversity Net Gain management continuing in the future.
Biodiversity Net Gain applies to habitat loss and creation/restoration/enhancement, taking into account local Green Infrastructure Strategies and planning policy. Biodiversity Net Gain does not apply to irreplaceable habitats, such as ancient woodland.
It is very difficult to achieve Biodiversity Net Gain if the project involves the loss of semi-natural woodland or native species-rich hedgerows.
At aLyne Ecology, we are now incorporating Biodiversity Net Gain calculations (Defra, 2019) and recommendations for how Biodiversity Net Gain can be achieved for projects on site, in our reports. We are liaising closely with our clients to ensure that Biodiversity Net Gain objectives are proportionate, reasonable and achievable.
How Biodiversity Net Gain will be delivered across counties is yet to be finalised. Key considerations include delivery of Biodiversity Net Gain off-site, tariffs, phasing and the preparation of Nature Recovery Networks by local authorities. Defra are also due to release simplified Biodiversity Net Gain calculations for smaller development sites.
We will continue to monitor the outcomes of Defra consultations and other information published by CIEEM, the Wildlife Trusts and local authorities, to ensure that we can guide our clients through the process of delivering Biodiversity Net Gain appropriately and in accordance with legislation.
If you have any queries about Biodiversity Net Gain, please get in touch with Sarah Lyne, Managing Director. If you would like to get more information on Biodiversity Net Gain please click here.