The idea of biodiversity net gains has long been in the minds of developers and environmental professionals alike since Defra released a pilot metric back in 2012. February 2019 saw the completion of a two month consultation period which asked: whether the concept of biodiversity net gains should be formalised within the planning system?
This question was answered on 13th March when Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged that developments in England will be required to demonstrate positive impacts on biodiversity during his Spring Budget Statement to Parliament.
The Statement included a ‘Clean Growth’ section, setting out how the government will use the forthcoming Environment Bill to mandate “net gains for biodiversity on new developments in England to deliver an overall increase in biodiversity” in a bid “to ensure that wildlife isn’t compromised in delivering necessary infrastructure and housing”.
Defra swiftly followed this, issuing a news piece on mandating Biodiversity Net Gains, clearly setting out that developers will be required to assess habitat type and condition before development and ensure that development proposals demonstrate how they will improve biodiversity through new habitat creation or enhancement.
Though we’re yet to see detail of how this will be addressed in planning policy, the concept of biodiversity net gains can be delivered on small to large scale projects through conscientious design at the outset and an understanding of site conditions.
No doubt, as policy and guidance continues to evolve the relationships between design, landscape, ecology and development will become increasingly important in the delivery of biodiversity net gains. CSA’s multidisciplinary team offers an integrated approach to scheme design, ensuring that net gains can be delivered alongside development providing benefits for biodiversity and local communities alike.