Biodiversity Net Gain

Biodiversity Net Gain

“If anyone looking to obtain planning permission for development is not yet familiar with the concept of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), they soon will be. Under the Environment Act 2021 (the Act), achieving a minimum BNG of 10% will become a mandatory requirement. The Government has said that timeframe for mandatory BNG is within 2 years of the Act coming into force, which was on 9 November 2021”, says Mark Sanders of Acorn Rural Property Consultants.

“Paragraph 174 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) already contains provisions that require planning policies and decisions to minimise impacts on and provide net gains for biodiversity and some Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) either already have a local plan policy or are applying the NPPF to require BNG for new developments. It is also likely that, when BNG becomes mandatory, some LPAs will choose to apply more than the minimum 10%”, continues Sanders.

“The measurement of BNG requires a survey of the development site and surrounding area to determine the habitats that will be impacted by the proposed development. Natural England has development a biodiversity metric that assigns each habitat within a site a unit value according to its relative distinctiveness, condition, quality, strategic significance and local ecological importance. These factors are assessed by a suitably experienced ecologist and all habitat unit values are combined to create an on-site baseline habitat score. Compensation for any removed or affected habitat is required by creating new habitats with the same or improved distinctiveness or higher overall habitat score. These produce a pre-development and a post-development biodiversity score which enables the percentage net change to be calculated”, explains Sanders.

“Over the last 2 years, we have been expanding our expertise to include in-house BNG and ecological surveys. Our in-house ecologist, Henry Buckpitt, holds a qualifying membership of the Charted Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and will shortly be applying for Associate membership which enables him to provide advice and recommendations for a wide range of ecological matters”, adds Sanders.

For further information please contact Acorn Rural Property Consultants on 01884 212380

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