Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) in Summary
The principle of seeking biodiversity net gain has been part of national and local planning policy for some years. However, the forthcoming Environment Bill (2019-21) will make BNG a requirement of planning permissions in England; a mandatory 10% net gain threshold is proposed. A two-year implementation period is anticipated, with mandatory BNG likely to come into force around 2023.
Whilst BNG concepts aren’t new and the requirement to deliver BNG is already present in some emerging and adopted local plans, developers are still getting used to the implications of delivering 10% net gain and how this can affect developable area and viability.
CSA have considerable experience with biodiversity net gain, dating back to the piloting of biodiversity offsetting, the original Defra Metric, the Warwickshire Calculator and now Natural England’s Metric 2.0. We are here to help, so please give us a call. With ecology, landscape and urban design services in-house we are extremely well-placed to assess BNG and advise on the best approach.
Biodiversity Gain Objective
Under the forthcoming bill, planning permission will be subject to a condition to secure the ‘biodiversity gain objective’. This objective is met when the biodiversity value of the proposal exceeds the pre-development value of the site. This is currently set at 10%, but subject to review by the Secretary of State. This Biodiversity Value is calculated as:
- The post-development biodiversity value of the onsite habitat;
- The biodiversity value, in relation to the development, of any registered offsite biodiversity gain allocated to the development, and
- The biodiversity value of any biodiversity credits purchased for the development.
A Biodiversity Metric is how biodiversity value, and any gains, will be measured. Natural England’s Metric 2.0 is currently in Beta testing phase and is due to be published in Winter 2020.
A Biodiversity Gain Plan will need to be approved by the Local Planning Authority. Importantly, a Biodiversity Gain Plan will need to include information on how steps will be taken to minimise the adverse effect of the development on the biodiversity of the onsite habitat and any other habitat. This requirement reinforces the need for good design and adoption of the Mitigation Hierarchy – Avoid, Minimise, Restore/Compensate.
How CSA can help:
- At the Due Diligence stage CSA can provide you with an early assessment of the likely implications of BNG requirements.
- We can provide expert advice for Land Promotion to help guide your site through the development plan process, ensuring allocations are robust and deliverable in respect of BNG.
- With planning applications we can ensure your application is compliant with the relevant BNG policy and legal requirements, helping you to avoid unnecessary delays or costs. We do this by drawing on our core disciplines to provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for your BNG requirements:
- Our Ecologists have the expertise and experience to manage the BNG process – surveying, mapping and establishing baselines, running biodiversity metric calculation, advising on scheme design and identifying off-site solution.
- Our Urban Design team can optimise your scheme to minimise biodiversity losses on-site alongside other design considerations.
- Our Landscape Architects can draw up proposals that maximise the biodiversity value of new landscaping on-site.