Biodiversity Net Gain Explained

Our Senior Ecologist, Laura Snell, talks us through the concept of Biodiversity Net Gain

‘Biodiversity net gain’ is a term used to describe development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before.

Earlier this year the government published its 25 Year Environment Plan which sets out the approach to maintaining and enhancing the natural environment over the next 25 years.

One of the primary policies within the plan is ‘Using and managing land sustainably’ and as part of this policy an ‘environmental net gain principle’ for development is proposed.

Current planning policy states that development should seek to provide net gains for biodiversity wherever possible, however it is proposed that net gain should become mandatory.

As well as contributing to enhancement of the natural environment, being committed to the net gain principle is advantageous to developers in the following ways:

  • Leads to good credentials/reputation;
  • Gain recognition as industry leaders in biodiversity good practice;
  • Planning applications will be received more favourably e.g. by local planning authorities, statutory consultees and local communities;
  • Competitive advantage – being close to wildlife, nature /green space makes places more attractive to prospective buyers.

Businesses are starting to catch on with many keen to demonstrate their commitment to enhancement of the natural environment. Opportunities exist for businesses to promote their projects for example:

  • The Big Biodiversity Challenge –an awards initiative run by the CIRIA Biodiversity Interest Group which invites the construction industry to add at least one new biodiversity enhancement to construction sites/developments/existing buildings. The awards aim to raise greater awareness of biodiversity and to demonstrate how enhancements can be incorporated at different scales and on different projects.
  • Building with Nature – a new benchmark supporting the creation of high quality green infrastructure. Certain standards must be reached for a development to be awarded ‘Building with Nature’ certification. A wildlife standard is included supporting the creation of places which more effectively deliver a net gain for wildlife.

An excellent vehicle to help achieve biodiversity net gain is to incorporate green infrastructure into the design of a development as early as possible, green infrastructure being multifunctional green space that is capable of delivering a wide range of benefits for the benefit of people, wildlife and places.

Biodiversity net gain is certainly gaining traction – watch this space for further updates.

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