What is Biodiversity Net Gain?
Biodiversity Net Gain is development that leaves the natural environment in a better state than before.
The UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world, with 56% of our species in decline. The UK government is expected to mandate the delivery of Biodiversity Net Gain with the adoption of the Environment Bill, and Cornwall Council has already mandated the delivery of at least 10% Biodiversity Net Gain from all major planning applications.
What does it mean for developers?
From 1st February 2020 Cornwall Council applied a minimum 10% net gain requirement to all major planning applications (typically 10 houses or more, as well as larger scale commercial, industrial, and agricultural applications). A formal target for Biodiversity Net Gain is likely to be implemented by national government in 2021, and a general requirement for applications to show “biodiversity net gain” is already in the National Planning Policy Framework.
Biodiversity Net Gain will require developers to demonstrate that habitats for wildlife are being enhanced, retained, or created by their development. This needs to be demonstrated using a metric produced by DEFRA which measures the sites existing biodiversity value alongside its forecast value after development. The metric relies on good quality ecological assessment, gathered using a site survey to identify the habitats present and their condition.
All major applications will be required to submit a biodiversity calculation as part of the standard information required for those applications, which CEC are experienced practitioners in.
Increasingly minor applications are also being asked to show they are delivering Biodiversity Net Gain too and we can help you establish whether this can be achieved qualitatively or using the DEFRA metric.
If Biodiversity Net Gain cannot be delivered solely within the proposed development site, then off-site habitat creation or enhancement can be used to provide the Biodiversity Net Gain. If required CEC can help you arrange the purchase of Biodiversity Net Gain units through their parent company, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, which has established the biodiversity units they can create on their land across a wide range of habitat types.
There is a requirement for developers (or subsequent owner/ occupiers, if applicable) to commit to maintaining and monitoring the Biodiversity Net Gain for 30 years from the commencement date of the proposal.This also applies to any offset units which you may need to purchase to achieve the minimum 10% net gain for your development site, which is why Cornwall Wildlife Trust are so well placed to offer biodiversity net gain units to the market.
Does my development require a Biodiversity Net Gain Assessment?
Yes, if it meets the criteria of a major development. Cornwall Council will be publishing further information on the net gain requirements for minor developments in 2021.
Cornwall Council states that all major planning application submissions will need to demonstrate:
- The Mitigation Hierarchy has been followed (including proposals for any necessary compensation)
- That the proposal will provide a minimum 10% net gain increase in biodiversity
- How the proposal will integrate into any wider green infrastructure network.
There are some exceptions to the requirement, namely Permitted Development, Householder Development or Change of Use applications.
Biodiversity Net Gain Measurement and Assessors
The change in biodiversity value is measured using a metric based on habitat type, condition and area. It compares the pre-construction and post-construction habitats of the site.
CEC are experienced Biodiversity Net Gain practitioners and can undertake the site surveys required and complete the DEFRA 2.0 biodiversity metric calculations ready for your planning application to be made. We will liaise with you throughout the design process to help you maximise your gains for biodiversity on site, and our team of landscape architects are available if required to help create biodiverse planting designs and site layouts.
CEC’s team of CIEEM registered ecologists can undertake Biodiversity Net Gain Assessments with input from our team of Landscape Architects when required. Call us on 01872 245510 for further assistance and input.
How CEC’s ecologists and landscape architects can help you achieve Biodiversity Net Gain on a development
The key to achieving Biodiversity Net Gain on site is making the most of the existing resources and integrating the development with its surroundings and the wider landscape – specialisms delivered by landscape architects and ecologists. An integrated design approach creates places where people and nature can co-exist, leading to the best results for people and biodiversity.
Our experienced team of ecologists and landscape architects work to maximise the retention of high value habitats in good condition on development sites. Alongside this we can develop proposals for the creation or enhancement of habitats as part of the proposed development. These can include trees, hedges, ponds, wildflower meadows and formal planting to name but a few.
We are used to working with other disciplines including architects, engineers and planning consultants to achieve integration of the natural environment, whilst also delivering the client’s objectives of an attractive development yielding profits.
Our team will also be able to advise on how the proposal will integrate into any wider green infrastructure network which is a planning requirement.
CEC’s team of ecologists and landscape architects provide an integrated, pragmatic approach to Biodiversity Net Gain. Call us on 01872 245510 and speak to Jenny Stuart, Principal Ecologist for further information and a free quote. We will be happy to discuss how Biodiversity Net Gain can work in relation to your project.