“DEFRA has recently confirmed that Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) will be mandatory for developments in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 with effect from November 2023. For those who are not already familiar with the concept of BNG, please see our February 2023 article. Draft legislation to implement the mandatory introduction of BNG is set to be published later in 2023”, says Henry Buckpitt Acorn Rural Property Consultants.
“Developments that cannot create a 10% gain on-site will be able to access and pay for improvements on other sites by purchasing ‘biodiversity units’ via a private sector, off-site market. There will be a biodiversity gain site register which is also set to open in November 2023 and will be operated by Natural England. Farmers and land owners will be able register land and the associated biodiversity units attached as available for purchase by developers requiring off-site BNG units”, explains Buckpitt.
“The regulations will allow “habitat banking” where BNG units are created before being registered as available for sale. The baseline date for measuring the creation of BNG units has been set at 30 January 2020. Only habitat creation and enhancement post the baseline date will contribute to the creation of BNG units that can be registered as available for sale. Where there has already been an element of habitat creation or enhancement pre the baseline date, there will be a mechanism for re-basing to that date to allow enhancements post that date to be registered for sale. We are awaiting the publication of the regulations around re-basing and will be offering that service to our clients”, continues Buckpitt.
“The principle of “stacking” BNG units with other payments for environmental services on the same land has been confirmed. However, stacking will be restricted and Defra has said that BNG units can be stacked with nutrient credits (e.g. for phosphate mitigation) but can not be stacked with credits for other ecosystem services from the same nature-based intervention. The principle is that the regulations will allow the sale of BNG units where those have been generated on top of existing obligations or grant payments if the land owner is able to establish a clear baseline from the what the existing payment has achieved. Defra has published additional guidance around stacking and we will report on that in a separate article”, advises Buckpitt.
“Alongside the main BNG metric there will be a separate “small sites” metric. That will apply to residential developments where the number of dwellings is less than 10 on a site area below 1 hectare and for non-residential developments where the floor space to be created is less than 1,000 square metres or where the site area is less than 1 hectare. This metric is still being trialled and will not be introduced until 2024 at the earliest” concludes Buckpitt.
For further information please contact Acorn Rural Property Consultants on 01884 212380
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