Biodiversity net gain (BNG) is becoming a mandatory requirement of most new development sites in England, meaning developers will need to deliver a positive impact on the local wildlife and ecology. This can be achieved on site or off site, and either through habitat creation or restoration works, or by buying statutory credits to offset biodiversity losses elsewhere. Having the right ecological consultancy partner in place early on will help to ensure that the process runs smoothly and to minimise risk, so that you achieve your BNG targets.
Onsite biodiversity net gain credits can be delivered by installing a biodiversity compensation covenant or creating a new priority habitat on land owned by a third party, to ensure irreplaceable flora and fauna remain protected after construction. This offsite biodiversity contribution can then be counted towards a developer’s BNG obligation, so long as it is registered on the new Biodiversity Gain Site Register. Developers can choose to do this themselves or work with a specialist consultant.
This’registered offsite biodiversity gain’ requirement will become part of the planning system when the Environment Act becomes law in 2024, and a publically-available register will allow developers to track biodiversity gains made offsite by their projects. BNG policies currently outlines that’registered offside biodiversity gain’ must be maintained for at least 30 years.
A new statutory credit option has been introduced to help meet the BNG requirements of those developments that are either unable or unwilling to implement on-site mitigation. Purchasing statutory credits will allow developers to offset biodiversity losses on sites outside of the local authority’s jurisdiction, provided that the offsite mitigation meets the criteria of DEFRA’s mitigation hierarchy.
The statutory credits are created through the ‘biodiversity unit’ metric which assigns a value to different habitat types and their condition, taking into account the type, extent and species richness of the habitat. The metric has been developed by Natural England, and there are currently three different’versions’ of the metric; 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0.
The statutory credits are created and sold by independent biological consultants, such as Ecology By Design, who are licensed to survey and value land for the purposes of Biodiversity Units and can help with planning applications for both on and offsite biodiversity net gain contributions. Using a licensed consultancy will mean that the correct habitats are chosen and valued, as well as being able to use up to the maximum number of credits required for a particular application. This will give the best chance of achieving the desired outcome of hitting your BNG targets and gaining planning permission for your development. Contact us today for more information or to arrange a free biodiversity assessment. We’re always happy to chat through options with you and are experienced in delivering habitat surveys, ecological appraisals and statutory credits. All our staff are members of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management. (CIEEM). Click here for our full range of ecology services. Alternatively, you can fill in our online quotation form here.