Biodiversity Net Gain
What is Biodiversity Net Gain?
The Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) principle is aimed at ensuring that any development that impacts the environment will eventually have a net positive effect. Once passed into law with the new Environment Bill, biodiversity net gain will be an essential part of any new development that impacts the environment.
BNG is intended to contribute to the recovery of nature while developing land. The aim is to improve the habitat for wildlife so that it is in a better state than it was before development. BNG requirements will apply for any developments that fall under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, unless exempt.
When will BNG come into law?
As of November 2023, if you are applying for planning permission for a development, local planning authorities across the UK will require you to demonstrate how your development will achieve a 10% net gain in biodiversity. Many local authorities have already adopted this policy.
How will developers fulfill their BNG requirements?
Developers will need to show that either within their developments and/or by creating offset land away from the development, they have produced a net gain to the environment of at least 10%.
To start the process, a biodiversity impact assessment is needed. This is concerned with comparing the condition and size of natural habitats before and after the completion of development; it’s used to predict whether or not the site will meet a 10% net gain in biodiversity once the development is concluded. To do this, a site must be surveyed before any site preparation works have begun so that a baseline figure for biodiversity can be calculated.
One of the key components of BNG is the use of the Biodiversity Metric - a tool that calculates and compares the biodiversity value of a site before and after development, taking into account factors such as habitat type, condition and connectivity. An ecologist or landscape architect can help developers navigate the Biodiversity metric and assess the impact of their plans on biodiversity and determine the necessary measures to achieve net gain.
It is wise to get plans in place early in the development lifecycle – the earlier a plan is in place for biodiversity net gain, the more it will become a natural part of the development.
How can JPR help?
To achieve net gain, developers have a range of options available. They can enhance existing habitats, create new habitats or restore degraded habitats, depending on the specific needs of the site. Examples include planting native trees and shrubs, creating ponds or wetlands and providing nestings sites for birds. These actions not only compensate for any loss of biodiversity but also have wider benefits for ecosystem functioning and resilience
We can help developers once plans are in place with the following services:
Habitat translocation including hedgerows and grasslands
Site clearance, particularly where there are sensitivities due to protected species
We are experienced at working with ecologists and landscape architects with the aim of accurately interpreting plans and designs and making them a reality on the ground. Our staff have many years of experience working with protected species and the company has a wide variety of plant and equipment that is both efficient but has minimal impact on the environment.
Biodiversity Net Gain FAQs
How will biodiversity net gain be measured?
Planning policy will require the achievement of an increase in biodiversity as measured using a biodiversity metric such as Natural England’s Biodiversity Metric. This metric is used to assess the baseline biodiversity unit value of a site, and then to calculate the predicted unit value of the developed site based on the proposed plans. It allows different on-site and offsite compensation scenarios to be modelled and the creation and long-term management costs to be compared.
What are the Standards of Practice?
The British Standard BS 8683 - Process for designing and implementing Biodiversity Net Gain. BS 8683 is a new British Standard that sets out a process for implementing biodiversity net gain (BNG), which is an approach to development and land management that leaves biodiversity in a measurably better state than before. CIEEM have developed, along with other organisations, a good-practice guide for implement BNG: C766a Good Practice Principles for Development. Many ecological consultancies adhere to these principles.
Can the net gain be offset?
If it is not possible to achieve a net gain in biodiversity on site whilst still delivering a viable project, developers will be able to contribute at a local or regional project to offset their development. This might result in greater gains for biodiversity overall and could be easier for the developer to work into their plans. However, the metrics used to measure biodiversity net gain for planning will favour plans that are either on site or very close to the site and score them accordingly.