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What’s Happening With Biodiversity Net Gain?

What’s Happening With Biodiversity Net Gain?
06 October 2023

Mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain rules, where developers must avoid loss of habitat on land they plan to build on, will be delayed until January 2024.

Originally set to be implemented in November 2023, Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is part of the 2021 Environment Act. It’s an amendment to the planning system where developers building new housing, industrial or commercial developments must deliver a net-positive for the local environment.

This could include creating new wildlife habitats on or off-site. If this isn’t possible, developers must purchase credits from the government, who will invest in habitat creation on their behalf.

A new timetable set out by the government has confirmed that this requirement deadline has moved to January 2024. The government has committed to publishing all guidance and regulations by the end of November 2023. This will include a draft biodiversity gain plan template, which will help developers prepare for what they will need to complete during the planning application stages.

Trudy Harrison, Biodiversity Minister said: “Developers and planning authorities should use the additional time to familiarise themselves with the guidance and prepare for the integration of Biodiversity Net Gain into the planning system.”


“Another Blow to Sustainable Development”


Less than a week after the government announced it would dial back key net-zero policies, some are disappointed in the delay to BNG. Simon McWhirter, Deputy Chief Executive of the UK Green Buildings Council, said: “These reports are yet another blow to sustainable development and risks undermining national efforts to put the collapse of nature into reverse. Responsible developers large and small have been gearing up for this change for years, with many of our members creating dedicated jobs to deliver net gain from in-house consultants to designers, landscape architects and creative project leads. This will be exceptionally damaging for their projected work pipelines, investment, supply chains, and related job roles.  

Amanda Skeldon, Director of Climate & Nature at JLL, said: “The Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) rules are a fundamental pillar of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan to ensure that the delivery of new developments is balanced with the need to protect our natural environment and restore biodiversity. Commitment to BNG policy is needed by businesses, real estate owners and developers to ensure we collectively respond to the climate and nature crises. Delaying its implementation will cause confusion and disruption to the planning process, whilst directly impacting much-needed investment into the UK’s natural environment.“

Picture: a photograph of some modern blocks of flats. Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 06 October 2023


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