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Government delays mandatory biodiversity net gain to January 2024

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

On 27 September 2023, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced that the government is delaying implementation of mandatory biodiversity net gain (BNG) of at least 10% for new planning applications under the town and country planning regime in England that result in loss or degradation of habitat (see government press release here).

BNG aims to make a new development’s impact on the environment positive, by delivering improvements through habitat creation or enhancement after avoiding or mitigating harm as far as possible.

The delayed timetable is that mandatory BNG is required for:

  • New housing, industrial, or commercial developments from January 2024 instead of November 2023.
  • Small sites from April 2024, as previously indicated.

Mandatory biodiversity gain for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) is still planned for 2025.

By the end of November 2023, the government indicates it will publish all guidance and the implementing regulations, including:

  • The statutory biodiversity metric is used to calculate the correct biodiversity gain.
  • The draft biodiversity gain plan template. A developer must prepare a plan as part of the planning application process.
  • The habitat management and monitoring plan template will set out how long-term management will improve significant on-site and off-site habitats.
  • A package of BNG guidance setting out further advice for landowners, developers, and local planning authorities on their roles and responsibilities in delivering BNG.

This package has been awaited since the February 2023 government response to its 2022 consultation.

In July 2023, Defra launched its application system for responsible bodies for conservation covenants, which will be an important mechanism for delivering BNG.

To find out more, speak to our Commercial Property Solicitors and call Wilson Browne on 0800 088 6004