Biodiversity Credits UK – What you need to know

Biodiversity net gain (BNG) refers to a concept and approach in environmental management where development projects aim to enhance biodiversity beyond the existing baseline. It involves ensuring that the biodiversity and ecosystem services lost due to development activities are compensated for by creating or restoring habitats elsewhere, resulting in a “net gain” in biodiversity overall. This approach acknowledges the importance of mitigating the negative impacts of human development on ecosystems and species to ensure that BNG is maintained for at least 30 years.

As part of the BNG approach, Biodiversity credits were introduced to strike a balance between economic development and ecological preservation. Biodiversity credits, a relatively new concept in the UK, represent an innovative approach to conserving and enhancing the nation’s natural environment. The decline of biodiversity in the UK is a pressing concern, therefore, biodiversity credits offer a promising solution that prioritises ecological interests.

What are biodiversity credits UK?

If it is determined that a development site may cause issues for local biodiversity it may not be granted planning permission by local planning authorities. Developers will then have to demonstrate methods in which they will mitigate these negative effects before permission can be granted. If these methods cannot be achieved on-site, they must be achieved offsite.

The concept of biodiversity credits is rooted in the principle of ‘offsetting’, where the negative impacts of a project are counterbalanced by actions that promote conservation and restoration of ecosystems in another location.

Developers can purchase biodiversity credits in the UK, ultimately meaning that they are investing in environmentally friendly projects in other locations in order to compensate for any biodiversity loss that a development may result in.

How do biodiversity credits work?

determine the potential impact on local ecosystems and biodiversity. This assessment helps identify the extent of the ecological damage that may occur.

Mitigation – To offset the anticipated damage, developers are required to invest in conservation or restoration projects. These projects aim to improve or create new habitats, protect endangered species, or enhance ecosystem health in a different area. The type and scale of these mitigation efforts are often proportional to the environmental impact of the development project.

Credits – Biodiversity credits are generated as a result of the mitigation actions. Each credit represents a quantifiable unit of biodiversity improvement or protection, typically measured in terms of species, existing habitat quality, or ecosystem function. These credits are then made available for purchase.

Compliance – Developers use the purchased credits to demonstrate compliance with environmental regulations or permitting requirements. In this way, they can proceed with their development project without violating environmental laws.

The overarching goal of biodiversity credits is to achieve a net gain in biodiversity or ecosystem quality, ensuring that any ecological damage caused by development is more than compensated for through the conservation and restoration actions funded by the credits.

Our team at Collington Winter are experts in biodiversity and nature credits. If you are looking for more information about how we can assist you with your project, then please do not hesitate to contact us today.

What is biodiversity net gain?

As it is now a part of UK legislation, BNG becomes mandatory in 2024 for all upcoming development projects in England alongside local nature recovery strategies. BNG refers to the process whereby a development (or project) 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. This is done by avoiding biodiversity loss, retaining various habitat types and protecting any assets of strategic significance.

Biodiversity Net Gain is being requested more frequently by both the UK government and Local planning authorities to inform a planning application. The aim is to demonstrate how the proposed development will be of benefit to biodiversity in a measurable manner. BNG also acts 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.

Biodiversity units encompass the standardised metrics employed to evaluate biodiversity gains, encompassing factors like species count, type of habitat, ecological functionality, among others. These BNG units dedicated to biodiversity net gain are subsequently used to determine whether any corrective actions might be necessary to fulfil planning commitments set by the local planning authority.

The integration of biodiversity net gain can be realised on-site and is expected to be secured for at least 30 years. If achieving a net gain of 10% or more on-site proves unattainable, and its continuity can’t be fully maintained on-site, the remaining portion can be offset and accommodated off-site, utilising biodiversity credits UK.

How can Collington Winter assist?

Collington Winter are a nature positive ecological consultancy with vast experience in mandatory biodiversity net gain and statutory credits. We can assist with biodiversity net gain by providing: 

Please get in touch if you would like further information about BNG credits. 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 services we provide, feel free to contact us using the details below.

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