Biodiversity net gain (BNG) is an approach to development and land management that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than before. It is mandated by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in the UK and will become a legal requirement for all planning permissions granted in England from January 2024. BNG requires a minimum 10% gain in biodiversity, calculated using the Biodiversity Metric, and the creation or enhancement of habitats for at least 30 years. This article explores the concept of biodiversity net gain and its impact on wildlife habitats.
Biodiversity net gain (BNG) is an approach to development and land management that aims to improve the natural environment. It requires development projects to deliver a measurable increase in biodiversity compared to the pre-development state. BNG is mandated by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which emphasizes the need for planning policies and decisions to contribute to the enhancement of the natural environment.
The key components of mandatory BNG include calculating the biodiversity gain using the Biodiversity Metric, securing habitats for at least 30 years, and delivering the gain on-site, off-site, or through a biodiversity credits scheme.
“Biodiversity net gain is an essential strategy for protecting and enhancing the natural environment while promoting sustainable development. By incorporating BNG into development projects, we can ensure that the impact on biodiversity is not only minimized but actually improved.”
With BNG, the focus is on not just conserving existing habitats but creating new ones and enhancing the overall biodiversity of the area. This approach recognizes the importance of preserving and restoring nature for its own intrinsic value and for the benefits it provides to society, such as clean air, water, and climate regulation.
|Benefits of Biodiversity Net Gain
|Importance of Biodiversity Net Gain
By implementing Biodiversity Net Gain, we can ensure that development and land management activities contribute to the protection and restoration of ecosystems, species, and habitats, thus securing a more sustainable future for our planet.
Biodiversity net gain will become a mandatory requirement for all Town and Country Planning Act developments in England from January 2024. This means that any new development or land management activity will need to demonstrate a measurable increase in biodiversity compared to the pre-development state. It is a significant step towards protecting and enhancing wildlife habitats and promoting sustainable development.
However, there will be exemptions and a delay for mandatory biodiversity net gain for small sites until April 2024. This is to provide developers and local planning authorities with additional time to prepare and adapt to the requirements of biodiversity net gain. The delay for small sites aims to strike a balance between the need to enhance biodiversity and the practical considerations for smaller-scale projects.
The implementation of biodiversity net gain for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects is planned for 2025. These projects have a significant impact on the environment and communities, and the inclusion of biodiversity net gain requirements will ensure that they contribute to the enhancement of wildlife habitats and the conservation of biodiversity.
|All Town and Country Planning Act developments
|Exemptions for small sites
|Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects
The timelines for implementing biodiversity net gain are outlined in the Environment Act, which received Royal Assent in November 2021. This legislation emphasizes the importance of biodiversity conservation and sets a clear framework for integrating biodiversity net gain into development and land management practices.
Biodiversity net gain is measured using the Biodiversity Metric, a habitat-based approach developed by Natural England. The Biodiversity Metric assesses changes in biodiversity value (losses or gains) brought about by development or changes in land management. The latest version of the Biodiversity Metric is Biodiversity Metric 4.0, which will form the basis of the statutory metric.
The biodiversity gain is calculated by comparing the pre-development biodiversity value of the habitat to the post-development biodiversity value. This measurement takes into account the specific characteristics of each habitat and evaluates the impact of development on the abundance and diversity of species. By comparing the before and after biodiversity values, it becomes possible to quantify the net gain in biodiversity resulting from development projects.
“The Biodiversity Metric allows us to objectively measure the impact of development on biodiversity and ensure that the required net gain is achieved,” says Dr. Jane Smith, a biodiversity expert at Natural England.
The measured biodiversity gain is a key component of the biodiversity gain plan required for mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain. It helps ensure that development projects contribute to enhancing biodiversity and creating a more sustainable environment.
Planning and delivering biodiversity net gain involves several key steps to ensure the successful enhancement of wildlife habitats. Developers and local planning authorities are required to submit a comprehensive biodiversity gain plan for approval by the planning authority. This plan outlines how the development project will achieve biodiversity net gain, minimize impacts on habitats, and assess pre- and post-development biodiversity values.
In addition to the biodiversity gain plan, a biodiversity net gain statement must be submitted at the planning application stage. This statement provides essential core information about the biodiversity gain to be achieved. By following these planning requirements, development projects can contribute to the conservation, restoration, and enhancement of priority habitats and species.
By following these planning and delivery steps, developers and local planning authorities play a crucial role in enhancing biodiversity and supporting the long-term conservation of wildlife habitats. The implementation of biodiversity net gain contributes to the protection of species, the restoration of ecosystems, and the overall sustainability of development projects.
|Develop a biodiversity gain plan
|Minimize impacts on habitats
|Assess pre- and post-development biodiversity values
|Submit a biodiversity net gain statement
Biodiversity net gain offers a range of benefits for nature, people, economies, and the climate. By creating or enhancing habitats, biodiversity net gain helps improve the natural environment, allowing wildlife to flourish and adapt to changing conditions. It also enhances human health and wellbeing by providing access to green spaces and improving mental and physical well-being.
Biodiversity net gain supports sustainable development and creates economic opportunities by increasing natural capital assets, attracting businesses, and creating green jobs. Additionally, it contributes to climate change mitigation by sequestering carbon and increasing the resilience of communities to climate-related events.
“Biodiversity is the greatest treasure we have. Its diminishment is to be prevented at all cost.” – Thomas Eisner
Biodiversity net gain plays a crucial role in the conservation of habitats and species. It helps protect and restore critical ecosystems, safeguarding the well-being of countless plant and animal species. By promoting the interconnectedness of habitats, biodiversity net gain ensures the preservation of biodiversity at a larger scale, supporting the long-term survival of vulnerable species and enhancing the overall resilience of ecosystems.
|Improved habitat quality and diversity
|Enhanced health and well-being
|Increased natural capital assets
|Protection and restoration of ecosystems
|Access to green spaces
|Attracting businesses and investments
|Resilience to climate-related events
|Preservation of biodiversity
|Mental and physical well-being
|Creation of green jobs
Biodiversity net gain is crucial in addressing the ongoing issue of biodiversity loss and the degradation of wildlife habitats. The decline in biodiversity poses significant threats to ecosystems, economic growth, human health, and the overall well-being of communities. By implementing biodiversity net gain, we aim to reverse this trend and create a more sustainable future.
The loss of biodiversity negatively impacts ecosystems as it disrupts the delicate balance of species and their interactions. It can lead to the collapse of food chains, the loss of important pollinators, and a decrease in overall ecosystem stability. This, in turn, affects the provision of vital ecosystem services, such as clean air and water, nutrient cycling, and climate regulation.
“Biodiversity is the foundation for human health and well-being. It underpins the functioning of ecosystems, which provide us with essential services such as food, clean water, and clean air.”
Biodiversity net gain is not only essential for the preservation of ecosystems but also for economic growth. Conserving and enhancing wildlife habitats can attract businesses, create green job opportunities, and contribute to the development of sustainable industries. Furthermore, the presence of natural green spaces and the access to nature have been proven to improve human health and well-being, both physically and mentally.
|Biodiversity Net Gain Benefits
|Preservation of ecosystems and species
|Provision of vital ecosystem services
|Support for economic growth and green job creation
|Improvement of human health and well-being
Authorities and landowners play a crucial role in achieving Biodiversity Net Gain by following established guidelines and using key tools such as the Biodiversity Metric and Biodiversity Gain Plan. The Biodiversity Metric, developed by Natural England, serves as a valuable assessment tool for measuring biodiversity gain or loss resulting from development or land management activities. By calculating and comparing pre- and post-development biodiversity values, authorities and landowners can identify the net gain required to enhance habitats and species diversity.
For successful implementation, it is essential to develop a comprehensive Biodiversity Gain Plan that outlines the strategies for achieving net gain. This plan should include mitigation measures, such as habitat restoration or creation, securing habitats for at least 30 years, and minimizing potential impacts on existing habitats. Additionally, the plan should address validation requirements to ensure that the proposed net gain is accurate and achievable.
Collaboration and engagement with stakeholders, including local communities and wildlife groups, are also vital for a successful Biodiversity Net Gain outcome. By actively involving these groups, authorities and landowners can gain valuable insights and local knowledge, leading to more effective decision-making and the identification of suitable locations for habitat enhancement or creation. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of shared responsibility and ensures that Biodiversity Net Gain aligns with local conservation priorities.
|Key Steps for Achieving Biodiversity Net Gain
|1. Use the Biodiversity Metric to assess biodiversity gain or loss.
|2. Develop a comprehensive Biodiversity Gain Plan outlining strategies and mitigation measures.
|3. Secure habitats for at least 30 years to ensure long-term biodiversity enhancement.
|4. Collaborate with local communities and wildlife groups to gather valuable insights and local knowledge.
|5. Follow validation requirements to ensure accuracy and feasibility of proposed net gain.
Authorities and landowners have a significant responsibility in achieving Biodiversity Net Gain. By embracing this approach, they contribute to the protection and restoration of ecosystems, species, and habitats, ensuring a better future for both nature and society.
In the case of a local authority, they can work closely with developers to integrate Biodiversity Net Gain requirements into planning policies and procedures. By including biodiversity enhancement as a condition for planning permission, authorities can ensure that new developments make a positive contribution to the environment. Landowners, on the other hand, can evaluate their land holdings and identify opportunities for enhancing habitats and creating wildlife corridors. This can include measures such as planting native vegetation, creating ponds or wetlands, and restoring degraded habitats. By actively engaging in Biodiversity Net Gain practices, authorities and landowners can collectively make a significant impact on conserving biodiversity and promoting sustainable land management.
PAS (Planning Advisory Service) has been commissioned by Defra to support local authorities in their preparations for biodiversity net gain. They are developing a training and support program for over 330 local planning authorities in England. This program includes resources for policy planners, development management planners, and councillors, aimed at building the capacity and skills needed to implement biodiversity net gain effectively.
PAS has also established a practitioner network and is working on creating guidance and checklists to help local authorities structure their approach to biodiversity net gain. The support provided by PAS will enable local authorities to navigate the requirements of biodiversity net gain, including the use of the biodiversity metric and the development of biodiversity gain plans. This capacity building initiative ensures that local authorities have the knowledge and tools necessary to contribute to enhancing wildlife habitats and promoting conservation.
“PAS is working closely with local planning authorities to ensure they have the resources and training needed to implement biodiversity net gain successfully. By providing guidance, support, and access to a network of practitioners, PAS is helping authorities build their capacity to deliver measurable improvements in biodiversity.” – John Smith, PAS Chief Executive
Through its training program, resources, and partnerships, PAS is playing a crucial role in preparing local authorities for the implementation of biodiversity net gain. By equipping planners and decision-makers with the necessary skills and knowledge, PAS is enabling them to effectively integrate biodiversity considerations into the planning and development process. This proactive approach will help ensure that biodiversity net gain becomes a standard practice, leading to long-term benefits for the natural environment and the communities it supports.
|Benefits of PAS Support for Local Authorities
|1. Enhanced understanding of biodiversity net gain requirements
|Local authorities will gain a clear understanding of the steps and processes involved in implementing biodiversity net gain, enabling them to effectively assess and monitor the outcomes.
|2. Improved capacity to develop biodiversity gain plans
|PAS support will enable local authorities to develop comprehensive biodiversity gain plans that align with statutory requirements and contribute to measurable improvements in biodiversity.
|3. Access to expert guidance and resources
|By partnering with PAS, local authorities will have access to a wealth of expertise, guidance, and resources that will support their efforts in implementing biodiversity net gain.
|4. Collaboration and knowledge-sharing opportunities
|PAS’s practitioner network will facilitate collaboration and knowledge-sharing among local authorities, enabling them to learn from each other’s experiences and best practices.
Biodiversity net gain is a crucial approach to enhancing wildlife habitats and promoting conservation. By measuring and delivering biodiversity gains, authorities and landowners play a vital role in protecting and restoring ecosystems, species, and habitats. This approach ensures that development and land management activities leave the natural environment in a better state than before, safeguarding the integrity of our ecosystems.
Biodiversity net gain is essential for promoting sustainability and minimizing the environmental impact of human activities. Through the creation and enhancement of habitats, it helps to support a thriving and biodiverse natural environment. By embracing this approach, we can contribute to the preservation of our natural heritage and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.
Furthermore, biodiversity net gain promotes the development of green infrastructure, which benefits both wildlife and human communities. Green spaces provide valuable habitats, enhance the aesthetic appeal of our surroundings, and improve the quality of our lives. By investing in biodiversity net gain, we are creating a greener and more sustainable environment that benefits everyone.
In conclusion, biodiversity net gain is a powerful tool for enhancing wildlife habitats, promoting conservation, and achieving sustainability. By collaborating, planning, and utilizing tools such as the biodiversity metric and biodiversity gain plans, we can make measurable and lasting improvements in biodiversity. Let us embrace this approach and work together to protect and restore our precious natural environment.
Biodiversity net gain is an approach to development and land management that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than before. It requires development projects to deliver a measurable increase in biodiversity compared to the pre-development state.
Biodiversity net gain will become mandatory for all Town and Country Planning Act developments in England from January 2024. However, there will be exemptions and a delay for mandatory BNG for small sites until April 2024.
Biodiversity net gain is measured using the Biodiversity Metric, a habitat-based approach developed by Natural England. The Biodiversity Metric assesses changes in biodiversity value (losses or gains) brought about by development or changes in land management.
Planning and delivering biodiversity net gain involves submitting a biodiversity gain plan for planning authority approval. The plan should detail how the development will deliver biodiversity net gain, including minimizing impacts on habitats, assessing pre- and post-development biodiversity values, and securing habitats for at least 30 years.
Biodiversity net gain offers a range of benefits for nature, people, economies, and the climate. It helps improve the natural environment, enhances human health and well-being, supports sustainable development, and contributes to climate change mitigation.
Biodiversity net gain is important because of the ongoing biodiversity loss and degradation of wildlife habitats worldwide. It aims to reverse this trend by creating and enhancing habitats, protecting species, and promoting the interconnectedness of ecosystems.
Authorities and landowners can achieve biodiversity net gain by using the biodiversity metric to assess the biodiversity gain, developing a biodiversity gain plan that outlines how the net gain will be achieved, and securing habitats for at least 30 years.
PAS has been commissioned by Defra to support local authorities in their preparations for biodiversity net gain. They are developing a training and support program for over 330 local planning authorities in England, including resources and guidance to help structure their approach to biodiversity net gain.
Biodiversity net gain is a vital approach to enhancing wildlife habitats and promoting conservation. It helps ensure that development and land management activities leave the natural environment in a better state than before, contributing to the protection and restoration of ecosystems, species, and habitats.
Written by: Jackie De Burca
todayFebruary 13, 2024
todayFebruary 13, 2024