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Biodiversity Net Gain moves step closer with timetable set out

Published on: 12 October 2023

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Developers in England will be required to deliver ten per cent “Biodiversity Net Gain” from January 2024 onwards

Despite recent media reports concerning a delay in the implementation of Biodiversity Net Gain, Government has set out its next steps on plans for new housing, commercial and infrastructure developments to be “nature positive” by confirming that upcoming legislation to bring in these rules will be laid in November.

This is the first step in putting the new rules, known as “Biodiversity Net Gain” (BNG) onto a formal statutory footing.

Under the updated timetable set out developers in England will be required to deliver ten per cent “Biodiversity Net Gain” from January 2024 onwards when building new housing, industrial or commercial developments (including marinas and boatyards). Therefore, this only applies to developments taking place on land, at the coast, or anywhere above low tide, meaning by law they must deliver a net positive for the local environment, for example by creating new habitats and green spaces. Biodiversity Net Gain for small sites will still be applicable from April 2024, and implementation for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects remains planned for 2025.

By the end of November 2023, DEFRA will publish all guidance and the regulations including:

  • The statutory biodiversity metric, critical for calculating the correct biodiversity gain
  • The draft biodiversity gain plan template, which will help developers prepare for what they will need to complete during the planning application stages
  • The Habitat Management and Monitoring Plan template, which will set out how the improved significant on-site and off-site habitats will be managed for the long term
  • A package of Biodiversity Net Gain guidance that sets out further advice for landowners, developers, and Local Planning Authorities around their role and responsibilities in delivering mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain

Mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain will only apply to new applications for planning permission for major development made after January 2024. We are working with DLUHC on transitional arrangements to ensure that Biodiversity Net Gain is not applied retrospectively to planning applications that have been submitted or have already been granted permission before the implementation date.

 

There are still many unknowns around how marine net gain might eventually work, what legislative underpinning it could have and how it will interface with biodiversity net gain on land. However, there is a real urgency to setting a path that secures sustainable development and enables marine nature recovery. 

 

If more information is required or to raise any concerns regarding Marine Net Gain or Biodiversity Net Gain we ask our members to contact our Environment Executive – James Brushwood via [email protected] who is continuing to actively engage with Defra and other stakeholders on this important new developing policy area.