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Biodiversity Net Gain – New Developments

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

The government has published guidance on biodiversity net gain requirements to be imposed on developers, with draft legislation likely to be published during 2023.

What is Biodiversity Net Gain?

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) 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 and help to deliver nature friendly homes of the future.

Why is Biodiversity Net Gain important?

The State of Nature report, published in 2019, suggests there has been a 13% decline in the average abundance of wildlife in the UK since the 1970s. This is despite legislation and policy to protect biodiversity and wildlife.

The latest guidance

New housing, commercial and infrastructure developments are set to be “nature positive” from November onwards (with the exact date being unconfirmed), with the plans backed by £16 million of funding for Local Planning Authorities and guidance to support the new approach.

Under the Environment Act 2021 above, developers in England will be required to deliver 10% “Biodiversity Net Gain” when building new housing, industrial or commercial developments so that there is a positive benefit for nature.

This means they will have to assess the type of habitat affected and its condition before submitting plans to the local planning authority detailing how they will deliver a 10% benefit for nature.

Developers will be required to demonstrate how they are replacing and improving biodiversity, with “biodiversity metric trading” rules requiring that any habitat affected within the boundary is replaced on a ‘like for like’ or ‘like for better’ principle.

Biodiversity improvements on-site will be encouraged, but in circumstances where they are not possible, developers will be able to pay for improvements on other sites elsewhere by purchasing “units” via a private, off-site market. A government-run statutory credit scheme is being set up which developers will be able to access as a last resort.

The government has also published guidance today for land managers who wish to sell to the Biodiversity Net Gain market. This provides information on combining environmental payments with Biodiversity Net Gain, including nutrient mitigation credits, grant payments or selling to other voluntary markets (e.g. carbon markets).

Wilson Browne Solicitors act for both developers and landowners, so there will be interesting times ahead as the new regime takes shape and is implemented.

For further information see the DEFRA article here