Biodiversity Net Gain
Biodiversity Net Gain is an approach to development and/or land management, that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was beforehand.
In reality it is a condition now appearing in planning consents to force delivery of a 10% uplift in biodiversity following the development of a site.
What legislation is driving this?
The National Planning Policy Framework states that;
- Planning policy should provide net gains in biodiversity
- Plans should enhance habitats and prioritise biodiversity improvements local to the development
- Development whose primary objective is to enhance biodiversity should be supported.
But what has really driven BNG is the Environment Act, which received royal assent in November 2021, however most of which will come into effect in November 2023. However there is not a huge amount of detail surrounding Biodiversity Net Gain within the act and so we are expecting to see this detail come forward in secondary legislation.
How is Biodiversity Net Gain calculated?
Defra has quantified biodiversity via a metric, we are now on version 3.0 of that metric. There are three separate areas of focus; Habitat, Hedges and Rivers. These are not interchangeable, a net gain on habitat, but a net loss on hedges would mean rejection by the local planning authority.
In order to understand what a 10% uplift is based on, a baseline assessment needs to be undertaken. This would involve classifying the habitat type by area and then undertaking a conditional assessment of each sub block of habitat within the development boundary.
This will culminate into a Biodiversity Net Gain unit total for the site.
Where can credits come from?
The management of an existing habitat must be improved, or new habitat created in order to generate credits to fulfil the BNG requirement for a development.
Credits can either be delivered on the development site, Offsite within the local area, or via purchasing National Credits. It is intended that the purchase of National Credits will be the most expensive and therefore the least preferred option by developers.
How long is a Biodiversity Net Gain Commitment?
Biodiversity Net Gain commitments are to be secured for 30 years through either a planning condition or via a Conservation Covenant.
How can we help?
Our Environmental Consultants can undertake both preliminary and official Baseline Assessments, for either developers to understand offsetting required, or for clients to understand what credits they can offer.
We have a register of land available to offer Biodiversity Net Gain credits that landowners can join and developers can purchase from.
Agricultural Environmental Consultant, Divisional Partner
Agricultural Environmental Consultant, Senior Associate