What does Biodiversity Net Gain mean for you?

The Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) legislation launched this month, bringing into effect mandatory rules for all new major developments across England in an effort to tackle the decline in biodiversity.

From February 12th, developers will be required to deliver a mandatory biodiversity net gain of 10% on all major developments. Developers will be required to quantify the anticipated impact on a site’s plants, animals and habitats as part of the planning process.

The government has a target of building 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s. Land affected by these developments must be compensated for under the new rules.

The policy will be extended to smaller sites from April, and to nationally significant architecture projects from 2025.

Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, stated: “This vital tool builds on our work to reverse the decline in nature and for everyone to live within a 15-minute walk of green space or water and will transform how development and nature can work together to benefit communities.”

The Challenges of BNG

Biodiversity net gain is regulated by several bodies, including local authorities and government agencies. However, regulators lack the staff to check whether the pledged habitat benefits actually materialise.

A recent study found that over a quarter of BNG units are at risk of leading to no tangible increases in biodiversity because there is no monitoring system in place.

There are also concerns that there are too few ecologists to oversee habitats or score them correctly.

Much of the off-site habitat restoration demanded by the scheme, including the creation and protection of wetlands, wildflower meadows and woodlands, is expected to take place on farmland. However, there may be a shortage of farmers signing up to the scheme, as it is not clear how big the market will be.

Avoiding the Pitfalls

There are also concerns from environmentalists that the BNG policy does not account for the loss of habitats from new developments.

Replacing natural habitats and landscapes with wildflower meadows or tree planting projects does not provide the same benefit for the species that had previously inhabited the land.

Moreover, developers are more likely to choose budget-friendly options for increasing their biodiversity, like wildflower seed, that have less chance of success and make less of an impact.

4th Corner provide a range of options to help you to increase the biodiversity of your site and meet the environmental targets set out by the new Biodiversity New Gain legislation.

Since 2012 we have made planting for biodiversity a central theme in all our planting and landscaping projects and we now offer all our clients simple cost-effective ways to improve the biodiversity of their sites through our Biodiversity Packs. Find out more here.

4th Corner Complete Community Project with The Guinness Partnership

Go Wild for Wildflowers: Biodiversity Initiatives at 4th Corner

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