Biodiversity Net Gain Cambridge: Understanding BNG

What is Biodiversity Net Gain?

Biodiversity net gain (BNG) is an approach to development whereby developers consider the environmental impact a project will have in terms of biodiversity. It aims to ensure the biodiversity is left in a better state than before the development was completed for local people and future generations. This is done by avoiding loss of biodiversity and retaining natural habitats and ecological features.

Biodiversity Net Gain is now being requested more frequently to inform planning applications. The aim is to demonstrate how the proposed development will be of benefit to biodiversity in a measurable manner. 

biodiversity net gain cambridge

Following the passing of the Environment Bill, mandatory biodiversity gain for developments in the Greater Cambridge area will be introduced through the forthcoming Environment Act in 2023. Following this, any development will be halted if it fails to meet the requirements. However, BNG is already required by the National Planning Policy Framework.

Due to relevant national legislation, biodiversity net gain is soon to become mandatory in Cambridge. The Greater Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire District Council is now requesting biodiversity net gain of 20% or higher to determine planning applications for planning permission.

Biodiversity Net Aims

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is a policy in the UK aimed at ensuring that new developments have a positive impact on biodiversity. BNG is particularly important for sites of special scientific interest and historical sites. The main aims of delivering Biodiversity Net Gain in the UK are:

  • Enhancing biodiversity: BNG aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was before development takes place. This is achieved by ensuring that the biodiversity value of a development site is higher than it was before. In cases where a development affects biodiversity, developers must ensure the provision of additional suitable natural habitats and ecological features, surpassing the impacted area by at least 10% compared to the initial baseline.
  • No net loss: BNG aims to ensure that there is no net loss of biodiversity as a result of development activities. This means that any loss of biodiversity due to construction or other development activities should be compensated for elsewhere.
  • Improving ecosystem services: BNG seeks to enhance the provision of ecosystem services, such as pollination, water purification, and climate regulation, which are crucial for human well-being.
  • Habitat creation and restoration: BNG encourages the creation and restoration of habitats, including wetlands, woodlands, grasslands, and other ecosystems that support a diverse range of European protected species.
  • Compliance with legal requirements: BNG aligns with existing legal requirements related to biodiversity conservation in the UK, including the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations. The Environment Act 2021 document states that BNG will become a legal planning requirement from November 2023.

Biodiversity Net Gain Principles

There are ten crucial good practice principles of biodiversity net gain. These should help to achieve BNG if they are followed accordingly. The mandatory biodiversity net gain 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 natural net benefit for biodiversity. This will ensure a development leaves biodiversity in a better state than it was before
  • Understand the variable factors and potential risks in order to achieve biodiversity and deliver 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

To ensure that these principles are implemented as efficiently as possible, the Greater Cambridge Biodiversity Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) has been provided to offer additional guidance.

Biodiversity Metric

The biodiversity metric serves as a tool to gauge how a development or alteration in land management will impact the biodiversity value of a site. This metric enables you to:

  • Evaluate the biodiversity unit worth of a specific land area.
  • Provide a consistent means of showcasing biodiversity gains or losses.
  • Quantify and acknowledge direct effects on biodiversity.
  • Compare different proposals for a site, whether they involve on-site or off-site habitat creation or enhancement.

It aids in the process of designing, planning, and making informed land management decisions that prioritise biodiversity. The metric computes values in terms of ‘biodiversity units’, which are determined by considering factors like habitat size, quality, and location.

Our team of ecologists and landscape architects have helped numerous clients over the years. Our clients have ranged from minor developments to major applications. We have assisted with matters regarding policy guidance for biodiversity net gain in Cambridge.

If you would like to find out more about the services we provide, feel free to contact us using the details below.

How can Collington Winter assist with BNG in Cambridge?

Collington Winter Environmental are experts in BNG planning and have helped numerous clients over the years. We can provide our services to meet the BNG requirements of the Greater Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire County Council. Completing net gain for biodiversity through development is something that we are qualified and experienced in.

We assist all types of developers in achieving BNG to ensure planning permission is granted in Cambridge.

We are determined to offer you the support you need in order to reach the required mandatory biodiversity bracket. If you would like to find out more about biodiversity net gain, Cambridge, feel free to contact us using the details below.

We can assist with biodiversity net gain by providing: 

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.

Contact Us

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23 Bark Street East, 1st Floor, Bolton, BL1 2BQ

Cambridge Office

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

Telephone

Head Office: 01204 939 608

Dumfries Office: 01387 378208

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