Whether you’re a developer, landowner, local planning authority or ecologist, Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is likely to crop up sooner or later and it’s something you need to know about, because in November 2023 it becomes mandatory.
What is Biodiversity Net Gain?
As part of any new development, you will be required by law to create a ‘net gain’ in habitat terms compared to pre-development conditions.
Biodiversity Net Gain has been introduced with the Environment Bill and ratified with the Environment Act 2021, which has become the overarching piece of environmental legislation in the UK. Secondary legislation should be in the making, and the projected date for nationwide rollout of BNG requirements is, currently, November 2023.
BNG mandates the delivery of net gain in the context of development and makes provision for long-term conservation covenants aimed to support Local Nature Recovery Strategies and the restoration of functional ecological networks at a landscape-scale.
It requires the application of a biodiversity metric (currently Defra 3.1) to acquire pre-development baseline data necessary to determine the level of effort required to achieve Net Gain, which is currently set at 10%. Whilst not yet mandated by the Secretary of State, more and more Local Planning Authorities expect BNG to be applied in the context of planning applications.
What can I do to prepare?
With the exemption of some householders, all new developments will have to deliver a minimum 10% Biodiversity Net Gain (although it could be more, at the LPAs discretion). Consultation on the application of BNG to Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) is ongoing; that said, several infrastructure projects (i.e. East West Rail, which Ecology Resources work on) have voluntarily committed to deliver BNG.
The best thing you can do to keep your project on track is to consider BNG at the offset. It is a lot harder to have to find the space and budget for BNG when the project design is nearing completion.
How can Ecology Resources help?
At Ecology Resources we have the expertise to deliver all aspects of this new approach.
Our team can support with Preliminary Ecological Appraisals, UK Habitat surveys, tree surveys (BS5837), species-specific surveys, Defra Metric 3.1 calculation, BNG reporting, Natural England licence application, Biodiversity enhancement strategies as well as with elements of habitat creation, management, and restoration.
We are very enthusiastic about this new provision, which if suitably delivered may lead to the creation of more resilient, attractive, and diverse landscapes in the context of development for the benefit of people and the environment.