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Biodiversity Net Gain Consultants for Planning  

The concept of biodiversity net gain (BNG) is reshaping the approach to development. It’s a principle that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state after development.  Aval’s Biodiversity net gain consultants play a crucial role in this process. We guide developers, land managers, and local planning authorities on how to comply with BNG requirements.

The Environment Act 2021 has made BNG mandatory in England. This means that all developments must demonstrate a 10% increase in biodiversity post-development.

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Understanding Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is a concept in sustainable development. It requires developers to ensure that their projects result in a net increase in biodiversity. This means that the natural habitat should be in a better state after development than it was before to achieve biodiversity net gain.

The aim of BNG is to mitigate the impact of development on the environment. It encourages developers to integrate biodiversity considerations into their project designs. This approach to development not only benefits the environment but also enhances the value and appeal of the development itself.

The Role of Biodiversity Net Gain Consultants

Biodiversity net gain consultants play a crucial role in the planning process. We guide developers, land managers, and local planning authorities on how to comply with BNG requirements. Our expertise helps in the creation of biodiversity gain plans and in delivering biodiversity net gain.

Our consultants also assist in habitat management and monitoring plans. They ensure that the natural environment is left in a measurably better state post-development. Their role is vital in habitat restoration and in the allocation of off-site biodiversity gains.

The Environment Act 2021 and BNG

The Environment Act 2021 has significant implications for biodiversity net gain. It makes BNG mandatory for development projects, reinforcing the importance of sustainable development. These legal requirements are a key driver for the work of biodiversity net gain consultants.

The Act also sets the 12th of February 2024 as the deadline for mandatory BNG. However, small sites are exempted until the 2nd of April 2024. This legislation underscores the government’s commitment to leaving the natural environment in a measurably better state.

Statutory Biodiversity Metric: A Tool for Measuring BNG

The statutory biodiversity metric is a crucial tool for measuring biodiversity net gain. It provides a standardised method for assessing the current biodiversity value of a site and setting targets for net gain. Biodiversity net gain consultants use this metric to guide their work.

The metric also plays a vital role in the allocation of off-site biodiversity gains. It ensures that these gains are quantifiable and verifiable, contributing to the overall goal of leaving the natural environment in a measurably better state.

Integrating BNG with Town and Country Planning

Biodiversity net gain is not an isolated concept. It’s closely linked with the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. This act governs land use and development in the UK, and BNG is now a key part of this process.

Developers, land managers, and local planning authorities must consider BNG in their development proposals. This integration ensures that development projects contribute positively to the natural environment. It’s a shift in the approach to development, making it more sustainable and beneficial for biodiversity.

 

 

Local Authorities and BNG Compliance

Local authorities play a crucial role in implementing BNG. They are responsible for ensuring that development projects within their jurisdiction comply with BNG requirements. This involves reviewing and approving biodiversity gain plans submitted by developers.

Moreover, local authorities are tasked with monitoring the implementation of these plans. They ensure that the promised biodiversity gains are delivered and maintained over time. This role is vital in achieving the goal of leaving the natural environment in a measurably better state.

More localised information is available.

Delivering Biodiversity Net Gain in Development Projects

Delivering BNG in development projects requires a strategic approach. Developers, guided by biodiversity net gain consultants, must assess the current biodiversity value of the site and set targets for net gain. This involves creating a habitat management and monitoring plan that outlines how biodiversity will be enhanced and maintained.

The process also includes engaging with stakeholders and the public. Their input can be invaluable in shaping the project and ensuring it delivers real benefits for local ecosystems. This collaborative approach is key to successful BNG implementation.

Key Dates for BNG Implementation: 12 February 2024 and Beyond

The Environment Act 2021 has set a key date for the implementation of mandatory BNG. From 12 February 2024, all development projects in England are required to demonstrate a 10% increase in biodiversity value post-development. This is a significant milestone in the country’s approach to development and conservation.

However, small sites are exempt from this requirement until 2 April 2024. This gives developers and biodiversity net gain consultants additional time to prepare and adapt their strategies. It’s a clear signal of the growing importance of biodiversity in planning and development.

Official information is available on the UK Government website with updates also available from Defra. 

Habitat Management and Monitoring: Ensuring Long-Term BNG Success

A crucial part of achieving BNG is the implementation of a habitat management and monitoring plan. This plan outlines the steps to maintain and enhance the biodiversity value of a site post-development. It’s not just about achieving a net gain in biodiversity, but also about ensuring its long-term success.

Biodiversity net gain consultants play a key role in this process. They help develop and implement these plans, ensuring that the natural habitat is not just preserved, but also enhanced. This commitment to long-term habitat management is what makes BNG a truly sustainable approach to development.

Off-Site Biodiversity Gains: Allocation and Strategies

In some cases, achieving BNG on the development site itself may not be feasible. This is where the concept of off-site biodiversity gains comes into play. Off-site gains involve enhancing biodiversity in a different location to compensate for the impacts of development.

The allocation of these gains requires careful planning and strategic decision-making. BNG consultants can guide developers in identifying suitable off-site locations and implementing effective strategies. This ensures that the overall biodiversity value is not diminished, even if the gains are not made on the development site itself.

The Future of Biodiversity in Development Planning

The integration of biodiversity net gain into development planning is a transformative step towards sustainable development. With the guidance of BNG consultants, developers can contribute to preserving and enhancing our natural habitats. As we move forward, this approach will become an integral part of how we plan and build our future.

More on Aval’s Ecology services

 

Free Initial Consultation and Quote

Call us on 0333 006 2524
Email to contact@aval-group.co.uk

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)? 
  • Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is a principle that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state after development than it was before. This involves assessing the existing biodiversity value of a site, implementing measures to enhance biodiversity during and after development, and ensuring that these enhancements exceed any biodiversity losses.
  • Why is BNG important in planning 
  • BNG is important because it helps ensure that development projects contribute positively to the environment. By promoting biodiversity, BNG helps maintain ecosystem services, supports wildlife, and contributes to climate resilience. It also aligns with governmental policies aimed at halting biodiversity loss.
  • How is BNG measured?
  • BNG is measured using biodiversity metrics that calculate the value of habitats based on factors such as area, condition, and distinctiveness. The most commonly used tool in the UK is the Defra Biodiversity Metric, which provides a standardized method to quantify and compare biodiversity values before and after development.
  • What is a biodiversity metric?
  • A biodiversity metric is a tool used to assess and quantify the biodiversity value of a site. It considers various habitat characteristics, such as type, size, quality, and ecological function, to generate a numerical value that represents the site’s biodiversity. This value is then used to plan and evaluate biodiversity gains or losses.
  • Who is responsible for ensuring BNG in a development project?
  • The responsibility for ensuring BNG typically lies with the developer, who must demonstrate compliance through their planning application. However, local planning authorities play a crucial role in setting BNG requirements, reviewing applications, and ensuring that BNG commitments are fulfilled.
  • What steps should be taken to achieve BNG in a development project
  • To achieve BNG, developers should follow these steps:
    1. Conduct a baseline biodiversity assessment of the site.
    2. Use a biodiversity metric to quantify existing biodiversity.
    3. Design and implement habitat enhancements or create new habitats to achieve a net gain.
    4. Monitor and manage the enhanced habitats to ensure long-term success.
    5. Document and report BNG outcomes to the relevant authorities.
  • Can BNG be achieved off-site?
  • Yes, if it is not feasible to achieve BNG on-site, developers can provide biodiversity enhancements at an off-site location. This is often done through biodiversity offsetting, where biodiversity credits are purchased from a third-party provider who undertakes habitat creation or restoration projects elsewhere.
  • What is a biodiversity offset?
  • A biodiversity offset is a conservation activity designed to compensate for biodiversity losses from a development project. Offsets aim to deliver biodiversity gains equivalent to or greater than the losses incurred, ensuring no net loss or a net gain in biodiversity at a regional or national level.
  • How does BNG affect planning permission?
  • Demonstrating BNG can be a requirement for planning permission in many jurisdictions. Developers must include BNG assessments and plans in their planning applications. Failure to meet BNG requirements may result in delays or denial of planning permission.
  • What are the long-term benefits of BNG for communities and developers?
  • For communities, BNG can enhance local biodiversity, improve ecosystem services, and create healthier living environments. For developers, incorporating BNG can lead to better relationships with local communities and authorities, potentially smoother planning processes, and positive contributions to corporate social responsibility and sustainability goals.