Biodiversity Net Gain Report for Planning Applications

The concept of biodiversity net gain (BNG) has emerged as a crucial tool for mitigating the impacts of human activities on ecosystems.

BNG involves a systematic approach wherein a development project assesses its environmental impact with a specific focus on biodiversity. The main objective is to guarantee that the biodiversity is left in a better state than its pre-development state. This is achieved by mitigating biodiversity loss, preserving diverse habitat types, and protecting assets of strategic significance.

As it is now a part of UK legislation, Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is poised to become a compulsory consideration for all forthcoming development projects in 2024. Local planning authorities are now increasingly requesting developers to provide a full biodiversity net gain report as part of a planning application.

What is a biodiversity net gain report?

Biodiversity net gain reports serve as comprehensive assessments of the potential impacts of development projects on biodiversity and ecosystems. These reports provide a detailed analysis of the current state of biodiversity in the project area, identify key habitats and species at risk, and evaluate the potential consequences of proposed development activities.

Additionally, they outline strategies and measures to achieve net positive outcomes for biodiversity, ensuring that development projects align with broader conservation objectives.

Key components of a biodiversity net gain report typically include:

  1. Baseline Assessment: This involves conducting thorough surveys and assessments to establish the current biodiversity status of the project site. This includes mapping habitats, identifying species present, and assessing ecological functions and ecosystem services.
  2. Impact Assessment: Biodiversity net gain reports evaluate the potential impacts of development activities on local biodiversity. This includes assessing the loss of habitat and threats to endangered species or sensitive habitats.
  3. Net Gain Calculation: Using biodiversity units, the report quantifies the anticipated loss of biodiversity due to development and determines the level of biodiversity enhancement required to achieve net gain.
  4. Mitigation and Enhancement Measures: Biodiversity net gain reports propose a range of mitigation and enhancement measures to offset any negative impacts of development and achieve net gain.

In summary, a biodiversity net gain report can play a critical role in integrating biodiversity conservation into the planning and implementation of development projects. By adopting a proactive approach to biodiversity management, these reports contribute to the preservation of natural ecosystems, the protection of wildlife habitats, and the promotion of sustainable development practices.

Biodiversity net gain principles

According to the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), there are ten crucial good practice principles of biodiversity net gain. These should help to achieve BNG if they are followed accordingly. The mandatory BNG principles include the following:

  • Utilise the mitigation hierarchy to minimise the impact on biodiversity
  • Eliminate any negative impacts on biodiversity
  • Communicate each BNG outcome with complete transparency
  • Cover all areas of sustainability, including societal and economic factors
  • Involve any pre-development and post-development stakeholders in creating mandatory net gain solutions
  • Focus on producing long-term environmental benefits from BNG
  • Understand the variable factors and potential risks in order to deliver biodiversity net gain
  • Offer nature conservation that exceeds the stated BNG requirements
  • Determine a suitable method in order to secure measurable biodiversity net gains
  • Ensure the best possible results from biodiversity net gain

For case studies and a practical guide on BNG principles, visit the CIEEM website.

Our team has strong experience completing BNG and will provide guidance throughout the BNG planning system process. This applies from the initial land purchase agreements to monitoring assessments.

What types of developments will BNG apply to?

From 12 February 2024, BNG will be mandatory for new planning applications for major developments made under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Major developments include residential developments with 10 or more dwellings or if the site area is greater than 0.5 hectares.

Biodiversity net gain will be made mandatory for small sites from April 2024. Small sites include residential developments where the number of dwellings is between 1 or 9 or if the site area is less than 0.5 hectares. Small sites also include commercial developments where floor space created is less than 1000 square metres or the overall site area is less than 1 hectare.

Why is BNG being requested by local planning authorities?

BNG is significant for a variety of reasons and can help to positively affect the surrounding environment and wildlife. Some of the main benefits that BNG provides include:

  • It supplies water and improves air quality to the surrounding environment
  • Enhances the visual appearance of the environment
  • Facilitates a scientific understanding of the natural environment
  • Provides jobs for agricultural occupations
  • Helps to protect special scientific interest sites and irreplaceable habitats

The concept of mandatory planning conditions for biodiversity net gain is a structured method of ensuring that all of the factors listed above are encouraged and supported in the years ahead. As BNG applies to all planning projects, it causes a universal approach from governing bodies and local authorities. Therefore, due to the fact that BNG is a government policy, it prevents any potential issues with key stakeholders.

Implementing BNG

If you are unsure of how mandatory biodiversity net gain may affect your planning application, you should contact your local planning authorities immediately. They can discuss your development plans in detail and whether they align with BNG.

If they indicate that your development could be significantly impacted, we recommend that you contact an experienced ecologist as soon as possible. Our ecologists can discuss whether your development plans meet the required standards. They can also recommend any measures you may need to take in order to meet the biodiversity standards.

At Collington Winter, our team has strong experience completing BNG and will provide guidance throughout the planning process. We can ensure that one of our experienced biodiversity ecologists visits your development site to create and develop any required BNG reports using biodiversity metrics. Our team can also assist with habitat enhancements by using a Natural England habitat management and monitoring plan template.

How can Collington Winter assist?

Our team of ecologists and land managers have helped numerous clients over the years, including policy guidance for delivering BNG. 

We can assist with biodiversity net gain by providing: 

Please get in touch if you would like further information about biodiversity net gain guidance. 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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23 Bark Street East, 1st Floor, Bolton, BL1 2BQ

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Future Business Centre, Cambridge Campus, Kings Hedges Road, Cambridge, CB4 2HY


Head Office: 01204 939 608

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