Passed into law in November 2021, the Environment Act proposes a new mandatory requirement for new major developments to provide a 10% biodiversity net gain (BNG) from the 12th of February 2024.
Under the current requirements, current national policy sets out that planning should provide BNG where possible as stipulated by the National Planning Policy Framework, however, there is no minimum BNG requirement for Town and Country Planning Act developments.
From the 12th of February 2024, BNG shall be mandatory as set out in the Act. It applies in England only, and to projects submitted after the 12th of February 2024.
A biodiversity gain plan will need to be submitted, this must include:
There are 3 main delivery mechanisms for BNG as follows:
This includes all land within the boundary of a project. In a planning context, this means within a red line boundary and can be delivered through habitat creation, enhancement via landscaping, and green infrastructure. This is the preferred route and is calculated by establishing a baseline score on the site based on the current habitats on site (this is split between area, quality – relating to distinctiveness, condition and strategic significance of the habitats). Following this, you undertake the same calculation based on the proposed habitat on the final development to give you the post-development score. This will allow you to work out your BNG %.
This is all land outside of the on-site boundary, regardless of ownership and can be delivered off-site through habitat creation, and enhancement via habitat banks with public / private landowners (through a geographical incentive / penalty).
As mentioned above, this can be done on controlled land which is land adjacent to the development site, and can be included on the blue boundary line (additionally owned land) on the planning drawings. It is handled in the metric as “off-site land” but with no penalty attached.
You can also go down the route of Third Party Land, however, a S106 / Conservation Covenant will be required. If TPL is significantly separated from the application site, this can cause the units to be “taxed”.
|Land Required to reach 10% (Hectares)
|8.6 (No Penalty)
|11.4 (25% Unit Reduction)
|17.1 (50% Unit Reduction)
BNG can be delivered through largescale habitat projects delivering high value habitats which can also provide long-term nature-based solutions. Credits will be made available for purchase in the future. They are intended for use only where BNG cannot be delivered on-site or off-site via the market, as a last resort.
This means a payment made to external provider who secures habitat units and oversees delivery and monitoring of these. However, these are typically much more costly, however, reduces the risk associated with long-term management.
The below table provides an insight into the expected costs of statutory credits:
With the new mandatory guidelines for BNG, it is important to take the following steps:
For more information, please get in touch with our team via the details below: