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Biodiversity Net Gain Consultant: Achieving BNG
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. Biodiversity net gain refers to the process whereby a development (or project) considers the environmental impact in terms of biodiversity.
BNG aims to ensure that biodiversity is left in a better state than before the development was completed. This can be achieved by avoiding biodiversity loss, retaining various habitat types and protecting any assets of strategic significance. BNG aims to secure habitat creation and preservation for at least the next 30 years.
Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is being requested more frequently by Local planning authorities to inform planning applications for planning permission. The aim is to demonstrate how the proposed development will be of benefit to biodiversity in a measurable manner.
The Environment Bill was introduced in November 2021 as it received royal assent. Therefore, BNG will soon become mandatory through the forthcoming Environment Act in 2023. However, the National Planning Policy Framework also requires a net gain approach which should be achieved in a measurable way.
Calculating Biodiversity Net Gain
Metrics assign every habitat on a site a ‘biodiversity unit value’ according to its relative importance for biodiversity. This enables comparison between the existing value of a site and what will be delivered pre development and post development. This may include an increase in natural habitats through retention and enhancement and/or creation, which goes over and above the environmental habitat originally on site.
Biodiversity net gain can be calculated through the DEFRA biodiversity metric 3.0, which requires a limited number of factors. These factors include:
The type of habitat (both on and off site)
- Any locations (if they are local environment priorities)
- The size of habitat parcels in kilometres or hectares
- The condition of any habitat parcels
The government website also provides a biodiversity metric 3.0 calculation tool which can help to determine your biodiversity unit score that translates into the standards of your local planning authority.
Implementing Biodiversity Net Gain
If you are unsure of how mandatory biodiversity net gain may affect your planning application, you should contact your local planning authority immediately as 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 Biodiversity Net Gain Consultant as soon as possible. Ecologists can discuss whether your development plans meet the required standards as well as any measures you may need to take in order to meet the biodiversity standards.
At Collington Winter, our team has strong experience meeting biodiversity net gain requirements and will provide guidance throughout the planning process. We can ensure that one of our experienced Biodiversity Net Gain Consultants visits your development site to create and develop any necessary biodiversity net gain plans and any required biodiversity net gain assessments.
Our ecologists will complete a habitat classification assessment, and the data is entered into a metric to measure changes to the natural environment, pre and post development. This metric is currently Defra Metric 3.0. Landscape planting plans and management plans are used to inform post development measures.
How can Collington Winter assist?
Our team of Biodiversity net gain consultants and landscape architects have helped numerous clients achieve BNG over the years. Biodiversity is something that we are qualified and experienced in, and we can offer advice on your development project. We are determined to offer you the support you need in order to reach the required mandatory biodiversity bracket.
Please get in touch if you would like further information about net gains for biodiversity or Landscape Management Plans. We are happy to offer free CPD sessions on the Biodiversity Net Gain 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.