Biodiversity Net Gain: How can it impact your development? - Palmers Solicitors

Biodiversity Net Gain: How can it impact your development?

Biodiversity Net Gain: How can it impact your development?

What is Biodiversity Net Gain?

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is a planning and development initiative introduced by the Environment Act 2021 to help improve natural environments. The UK has seen a rapid decline in biodiversity and natural habitats over the past few decades.

In line with international objectives, BNG was established to tackle this issue.

Why do you need to consider BNG?

The BNG requirements which have been introduced aim to ensure that a property development will leave the surrounding natural environment in a measurably improved state than prior to the development.

From 12 February 2024 the requirement for all major developments to show a minimum 10 per cent net gain came into force.

From 2 April 2024 this minimum net gain requirement was extended to minor sites. Finally, from November 2025 the requirement will likely extend to nationally significant infrastructure projects. Local authorities can set higher requirements through their Local Plan and there are a few examples of local authorities requiring a 20 per cent net gain.

The net gain will need to be maintained for a period of 30 years.

What do you need to consider on your development?

When planning your development, you should consider:

  1. Are you able to reduce the negative impact on biodiversity at your development site by changing the development layout?
  2. Can steps be taken to enhance and improve (or restore) biodiversity at your development site?
  3. If this is not possible, you are able to off-set your BNG under the legislation by creating or improving an off-site habitat. We have seen examples where developers purchase an additional site as a biodiversity habitat where the appropriate net gain cannot be achieved on the development site itself. Alternatively, this may be on land you already own.
  4. Finally, there is an option to purchase statutory biodiversity credits from the government. However, you must be able to demonstrate that you are unable to achieve the required net gain at the development site or by off-setting on another site.

All planning applications will be required to set out the necessary biodiversity net gain information as a pre-planning condition. You should consult the services of a suitably qualified ecologist to assist.

The obligation to implement the net gain improvement plan will take the form of a planning condition or, in the case of larger developments, can be secured by way of S.106 Agreement.

To find out more about BNG and how we can advise you, contact our team