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New BNG legislation

View profile for Louise Clifton
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The long-awaited Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) legislation came into force today. BNG is now mandatory on all planning applications save for small sites and those that are exempt and will be mandatory for small sites from the 2nd of April 2024.

What is BNG
Biodiversity Net Gain is an approach to development that ensures that habitats for wildlife are left in a measurably better state than they were before the development.

The purpose of BNG is for developers to deliver a minimum of ten per cent BNG when building new residential, industrial, or commercial developments (although some local planning authorities are looking for a 20% increase as best practice). The rationale behind the legislation is to ensure that developments deliver a positive benefit for nature.
BNG can be delivered either through provision of on-site habitat; provisions of off-site habitat; or payment equating to the number of Statutory Credits required to deliver the 10% gain. Significant on-site habitat and off-site habitat will need to be secured by either a conservation covenant or a planning agreement. There is also the possibility of securing BNG though planning conditions but, this is (a) for on-site provisions only and (b) not likely to be used as widely as a conservation covenant or planning agreement.

Top tips

  • As the BNG process is front loaded it needs to be thought about at the application stage of a development.
  • A BNG Report will need to be provided to the local planning authority at the application stage.
  • Engage the services of an ecologist early in the process as this expert opinion at the beginning can save time and money in the long run which in turn can avoid unfortunate obstacles and reduce the chance of a development stalling.
  • On-site and off-site BNG provision must be monitored for 30 years, so think about succession, particularly for off-site provision.
  • If the land that you are looking to develop is brownfield or has hard standing this can still have an ecological value, as land is measured according to differing ecological factors, habitat rarity and species richness within the habitat.
  • Development mitigation should generally be thought of in the following order:
    - Avoid or minimise damage from the development
    - Mitigate or enhance the biodiversity on site
    - Compensate off site within the local planning authority’s area
    - Compensate off site outside the local planning authority’s area
    - Purchase Biodiversity Credits

If you want to discuss BNG or anything else relating to development or planning law, please don't hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team.