Biodiversity Banking for Planning and Development
As it is now a part of UK legislation, Biodiversity net gain (BNG) will become a mandatory point for all upcoming development projects in England. BNG refers to the process whereby a development considers the environmental impact in terms of biodiversity. It aims to ensure the biodiversity is left in a better state than before the development was completed. High biodiversity levels can be achieved by avoiding biodiversity loss, retaining various habitat types and protecting any assets of strategic significance.
One method that has arisen as a result of BNG is biodiversity banking. Biodiversity banking is a relatively new concept that has emerged as a tool to address the negative impacts of human activities on the environment. As the population grows and the demand for natural resources increases, many habitats and species are being lost or degraded. Biodiversity banking offers a solution to this problem by providing a mechanism to offset the loss of biodiversity resulting from development or other human activities.
BNG was introduced in The Environment Act, and it will act as a planning condition as well as a policy requirement for planning consent. It can, therefore, have a significant impact during the decision making process of planning authorities when they debate whether to grant or refuse a planning application.
What is biodiversity banking?
Biodiversity banking is a conservation tool that aims to compensate for the loss of biodiversity resulting from development.
The basic idea behind biodiversity banking is to establish protected areas. This can include wetlands or forests, where the ecological value is conserved and maintained. These protected areas of land can then be used as credits. These credits can be sold to developers or companies that are required to offset the negative impacts of their activities on the environment.
For example, if a company is planning to build a road through a forest that is home to endangered species, they may be required by law to compensate for the loss of biodiversity. The company could then purchase credits from a biodiversity bank, which has already conserved an area with similar ecological value.
How is the value of a bank site calculated?
A site’s biodiversity unit value is determined by the species and habitats present in the site. Their rarity and importance to the surrounding ecosystem is also considered. This is usually assessed through biodiversity surveys and scientific analysis of the site’s ecological features.
The level of threat to the site is also considered when determining its value. Sites that are under immediate threat from development or other human activities may have a higher value than those that are not facing any immediate threat.
Finally, the cost of maintaining and managing the site for conservation purposes is also taken into account to calculate biodiversity. This includes the cost of monitoring the site, controlling invasive species, and other ongoing management activities.
Once these factors have been considered, the biodiversity value of land can be determined. This can then be used to establish the price of the credits that can be sold to developers or other companies so that biodiversity offsets the negative impacts of their activities on the environment.
How can Collington Winter assist?
Please get in touch if you would like further information about BNG. We can also develop land management plans. We are happy to offer free CPD sessions on the BNG principles and how we can help your schemes achieve this.
Our Ecology Director, Olivia Collington, holds a Natural England license. If you would like to find out more about the ecosystem services we provide, feel free to contact us using the details below.