Collington Winter Environmental

Biodiversity Net Gain 2023: What you need to know

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Biodiversity Net Gain 2023 refers to a policy objective to achieve a measurable increase in biodiversity as a result of a proposed development or land-use change. It requires that new developments or changes to land use not only avoid harm to biodiversity, but actively contribute to its improvement.

This involves creating, restoring or enhancing habitats and ecosystems, as well as protecting and conserving existing biodiversity. The ultimate goal of biodiversity net gain is to increase the overall health and resilience of ecosystems, as well as the survival and diversity of species in their natural environments.

The aim of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) 2023 is to improve the environment through the creation or improvement of habitats within and surrounding a development. Even though it is not yet mandatory, local planning authorities are often requiring developers to demonstrate their compliance with BNG before granting planning permission. BNG essentially acts as both a planning condition and a policy requirement. Therefore, meeting the BNG requirements is a crucial factor in determining the outcome of a planning application.

Delivering BNG will become mandatory at the end of 2023, and so all developers, land owners and project managers need to be aware of the rules and regulations surrounding it.

When will Biodiversity Net Gain be Mandatory?

It is important for all land developers to be aware of the legislation and the responsibilities expected of them surrounding mandatory biodiversity net gain in 2023. According to the Environment Act 2021, local planning authorities are now required to ensure that all permissions they grant result in at least a 10% increase in biodiversity. This mandate is set to take effect at the end of 2023 after a transitional two-year period has been provided for local authorities to put their policies and processes in place.

The National Planning Policy Framework in England, Paragraph 179 and 180, states that plans should identify opportunities for improving biodiversity and that when determining planning applications, local authorities should integrate opportunities to enhance biodiversity.

The Act requires developers to deliver a minimum of 10% biodiversity net gain (BNG) in their schemes, as measured through the Biodiversity Metric 4.0. Developers must demonstrate how BNG will be achieved through detailed plans, follow a mitigation hierarchy, guarantee the maintenance of BNG for at least 30 years, and participate in the creation of local nature recovery strategies and the national register of land used for biodiversity gain. The Act aims to encourage developers to consider BNG at the beginning of their projects to avoid complications and delays down the line.

The Environment Act will require the key points:

  • Developers must deliver net gains for biodiversity at a minimum of 10% through their schemes. This will be measured through a metric, currently Biodiversity Metric 4.0. This tool can help to identify your biodiversity unit score and translate it into the standards of local planning authorities.
  • A developer will need to demonstrate how biodiversity gain will be delivered on developed land. This will be demonstrated through the production of detailed Landscape Planting Schemes, Landscape Management Plans and Monitoring assessments for on and/or off-site.
  • A mitigation hierarchy is to be followed and demonstrated to avoid, minimise or compensate. If it is not possible to compensate on the development site, then offsetting will be required elsewhere.
  • Developers will have to guarantee the biodiversity gain is maintained for at least 30 years (as outlined in Landscape Management Plans).+
  • New “local nature recovery strategies” will be prepared to geographically cover England by “responsible authorities”. This will encourage habitat creation and enhancement in the right places.
  • Conservation covenants will be a mechanism used to deliver this (this approach is in preparation by Defra and Natural England).
  • A national register of land used for biodiversity gain will be established. This will involve setting up a new biodiversity credits market.
  • Metrics are only concerned with habitats and do not take protected species into consideration.
  • Other ecological legislation and policies still apply.

How can our team assist you?

Ensuring your development projects are conforming to the current and mandatory legislation coming into force at the end of 2023 will ensure the project runs smoothly, saving you both time and money. Following the guidance and rules surrounding biodiversity net gain will help you gain the required planning permissions from your local authorities to carry out your project.

Regulations regarding planning permission can vary across local authorities so it can be confusing and time consuming for developers to ensure they are following the correct rules. Our team of ecologists are experts in BNG and can keep you up to date with the current legislation and assist you with your biodiversity net gain plans and net gain approaches.

Our team’s experience and qualifications in BNG means we can support our clients efficiently, calculating their pre development biodiversity measurements to ensure the required gain is made post development in order to reach the required bracket that is becoming law in late 2023. We can offer a range of services including consultations on site and off site, protected species surveys and expert advice and planning surrounding BNG.

To find out more how CWE can help you with your biodiversity net gain 2023 plans then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss your queries. Contact us using the details below. 

Registered Office

23 Bark Street East, 1st Floor, Bolton

BL1 2BQ

Phone

01204 939 608

Email

info@collingtonwinter.co.uk

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