Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is increasingly being used by Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to demonstrate that new developments comply with recent changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
What is Biodiversity Net Gain?
BNG can be summarised by leaving your development site in a better state than it was before. This is in line with the NPPF, which states that LPAs should identify and pursue developments that secure BNG. Therefore, LPAs are including BNG as part of their policies and so you may be asked to demonstrate how your development achieves net gain.
Who does it apply to?
As it is part of the NPPF, this will ultimately affect all developments, although small-scale developments may be exempt, but this will vary from council to council and local knowledge is beneficial.
How do I prove my development achieves BNG?
A Biodiversity Net Gain Assessment compares the original (pre-development) conditions of the site to the post-development proposals. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) net gain metric is a calculator that quanitifies the value of habitats and can therefore quanitfy net gain or loss of biodiversity. Several other metrics are available so it is important to consult with your LPA when deciding which metric to utilise.
Whatever metric you use, your site will be attributed baseline values in “biodiversity units”, which takes into account the habitat types, their area and condition within your site boundary. By comparing this value to the anticipated biodiversity value of the site post-development (based on the landscaping proposals), the metric will calculate whether BNG has been achieved or not.
What if I can’t achieve BNG on my site?
This is a becoming a common issue and UES have worked closely with LPAs and developers in creating a site plan that provides as much biodiversity value as possible. There are several ways of achieving BNG:
- Apply the mitigation hierarchy: Alter site plans to retain, enhance or create new habitats on site. These can often be dual-purpose, such as providing public open space, sustainable drainage systems or screening/ buffers.
- Biodiversity offsetting on your land: Create and manage habitats within the developer’s ownership but outside of the development boundary.
- Biodiversity offsetting on third party land: Provide financial compensation equal to the value of biodiversity lost on site in agreement with the local planning authority. This compensation will be used to fund the creation and long-term management of habitats on third party land, such as within the ownership of the LPA, or a nature conservation organisation, trust or charity.
Are we the right surveyors for you?
Although BNG relates to a relatively recent revision in the NPPF, UES have already carried out BNG assessments within the jurisdiction of a varierty of LPAs using the latest biodiversity metric. We have also attended meetings with LPA Ecologists to determine their interpretation of BNG and how best to achieve it. If you have require any further information or wish to discuss this matter further, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the UES team. Please also download our biodiversity net gain advice sheet below which may help to answer some of your questions.