Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)
Supporting clients to achieve Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) through habitat creation on and off-site.
The Environment Act, which became law in 2021, is the UK’s framework for environmental protection. This sets clear statutory targets for the recovery of the natural world in four priority areas: air quality, biodiversity, water and waste.
It includes an important new target to reverse the decline in species abundance by the end of 2030 and with this a requirement for any developments in England needing planning permission to demonstrate a mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain of 10% from January 2024 onwards.
Biodiversity is the variety of life found in an area - the animals, plants, fungi, and microorganisms that make up our natural world.
Each of these species and organisms work together in ecosystems, like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life. Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive such as food, water, carbon sequestration, flood and drought resilience, i.e. ecosystem services.
Currently, although certain sites are protected, there are limited mechanisms to value, maintain, enhance or create wider habitats and ecological features. As a result, wildlife habitats continue to be lost to development, reducing nature's ability to connect and thrive and causing biodiversity loss.
Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is an approach to development, land and marine management that leaves biodiversity in a measurably better state than before the development took place.
From January 2024, most developments will need to deliver a mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain of 10%. Any biodiversity net gain plan is in addition to existing habitat and species protections. Intended to reinforce the mitigation hierarchy, biodiversity net gain encourages habitat protection, creation and enhancement.
Biodiversity Net Gain is quantified using the UK Defra biodiversity metric 4.0 (Statutory metric), a requirement of the Environment Act 2021 Biodiversity Net Gain regulations. The metric tool is a habitat-based approach used to assess an area’s value to wildlife and uses habitat features (Quantity and quality) to calculate biodiversity net gain (the number of 'biodiversity units').
A condition assessment must be carried out by a qualified and experienced ecologist in order to fill out the statutory metric and then asses the net gain that can be achieved.
What does Biodiversity Net Gain mean for developers and landowners?
Many local planning authorities already require a No Net Loss when approving planning applications, however, there were no standardized biodiversity metrics available for this.
From January 2024, when applying for planning permission, biodiversity net gain assessments need to be carried out. The statutory Defra metric baseline assessment will need to be submitted along with the Habitat Enhancement, Management and Monitoring Plan (HEMMP). Both of these will now need to demonstrate how you will deliver a 10% biodiversity net gain.
Biodiversity Net Gain and its associated habitat creation is a condition of planning permission and is currently dealt with through section 106. In the future, this may be done via conservation covenants.
The habitat must be maintained according to the HEMMP and protected for a full 30 years, with the funds required to do this set-aside. A developer will therefore require a cost plan to support the HEMMP.
Where possible, developers should deliver net gain on-site. If this is not feasible, Biodiversity Net Gain can be realised elsewhere, ideally within the same local planning authority and only in agreement with the local authorities. This is a process called biodiversity offsetting. Biodiversity units can be bought from a habitat bank or environment bank.
If offsetting cannot be achieved then it can be agreed with the local planning authorities that statutory biodiversity net gain credits can be bought. Statutory credits are uncompetitive priced to discourage their purchase and encourage the creation of habitat on-site or nearby.
As a landowner, there is an opportunity to bring a habitat bank to the market and sell biodiversity net gain units to developers.
CBRE: A Trusted Advisor for Your Nature Needs
Biodiversity Net Gain unit transactions
Habitat Bank Viability Assessments
Long-term monitoring, auditing and management plans
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