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Biodiversity Net Gain Cambridge: How we can assist

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Biodiversity Net Gain Cambridge

Biodiversity Net Gain is an approach to development that aims to leave the natural environment in a better state than it was before the development project took place. Previously, planning policy has encouraged UK construction and developments to achieve “no net loss” of biodiversity. However, over the years, biodiversity has declined in Cambridge and the UK, and as such, the BNG initiative was launched to leave nature in a measurably better state.

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is being requested more frequently by Greater Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire local planning authorities to determine planning applications for planning permission. Development will be halted if a planning application does not meet the BNG requirements. The aim is to show how the proposed development leaves biodiversity in a good condition and will benefit accompanying ecological features and sites of special scientific interest in a measurable way.

Is biodiversity net gain mandatory?

Following the passing of the Environment Bill, mandatory biodiversity gain for development sites in England will be introduced through the forthcoming Environment Act 2021. There will be a two year transition period however measurable biodiversity net gain is required for national planning policy framework.

As well as detailing the developments impact on biodiversity, developers must also use mitigation techniques if the development does not meet required standards of the South Cambridgeshire District Council.

Biodiversity net gain is especially requested for sites of special scientific interest and natural reservation sites.

Calculating biodiversity net gain

BNG can be calculated through the DEFRA biodiversity metric 4.0, which requires a limited number of factors. These factors include:

 The type of habitat (both on and off site)

  • Any locations (if they are local environment priorities)
  • The size of habitat parcels in kilometres or hectares
  • The condition of any habitat parcels

    Biodiversity net gain aims

     

    Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is a UK policy designed to guarantee that emerging developments contribute positively to biodiversity. The primary objectives of implementing Biodiversity Net Gain in the UK include:

    • Enhancing biodiversity: BNG aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was before development takes place. This is achieved by ensuring that the biodiversity value of a site after development is higher than it was before. In cases where a development affects biodiversity, developers must ensure the provision of additional suitable natural habitats and ecological features, surpassing the impacted area by at least 10% compared to the initial baseline.
    • No net loss: BNG aims to ensure that there is no net loss of biodiversity as a result of development activities. This means that any loss of biodiversity due to construction or other development activities should be compensated for elsewhere.
    • Improving ecosystem services: BNG seeks to enhance the provision of ecosystem services, such as pollination, water purification, and climate regulation, which are crucial for human well-being.
    • Habitat creation and restoration: BNG encourages the creation and restoration of habitats, including wetlands, woodlands, grasslands, and other ecosystems that support a diverse range of species.
    • Connectivity and green infrastructure: BNG promotes the creation of green corridors and connectivity between habitats, allowing wildlife to move freely and ensuring genetic diversity within populations.
    • Sustainable development: Biodiversity Net Gain aims to integrate biodiversity conservation with economic development. It emphasises the importance of sustainable land use planning and construction practices.
    • Adaptive management: BNG promotes the concept of adaptive management, which involves monitoring the biodiversity outcomes of a development and making adjustments as needed to achieve the desired net gain.
    • Compliance with legal requirements: BNG aligns with existing legal requirements related to biodiversity conservation in the UK, including the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations. The Environment Act 2021 will make BNG a legal planning requirement from November 2023.
    • Public engagement and education: It encourages public engagement and education about biodiversity conservation, helping to raise awareness and foster a culture of environmental stewardship.
    • Long-term Sustainability: BNG aims for the long-term sustainability of biodiversity gains, ensuring that they are maintained and managed effectively over time.

    How can we assist with achieving BNG?

     

    Our biodiversity consultants have helped numerous clients over the years, including with policy guidance for biodiversity gain from the Cambridgeshire City Council and relevant national legislation.

     It is important to note that this varies across each Local Planning Authority in the country and local plans. Achieving net gain for biodiversity through development is something that we are qualified and experienced in, and we can offer advice on planning projects.

    Please get in touch if you would like further information about Biodiversity Net Gain, Cambridge, supplementary planning documents (SPD), and land management plans. We are happy to offer free CPD sessions on the Biodiversity Net Gain Principles and how we can help your schemes achieve this.

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