03 Jul 2020 Biodiversity Net Gain webinar: Realities and Implications for the Development Planning Process
On 2 July 2020 BSG Ecology and LDA Design held a joint webinar on the realities and implications of Biodiversity Net Gain. Attendees included developers (from various sectors), architects, and local authority planners.
Speakers were Dr Peter Shepherd, Director of BSG Ecology, Frazer Osment, Chair at LDA Design, and Martin Herbert, Head of Planning at LDA Design. The webinar covered the following key areas:
- The policy evolution of Biodiversity Net Gain to date, and how requirements are likely to change going forward
- The principles behind Biodiversity Net Gain metrics
- How to plan for net gain and minimise project risk
- The increased demands Biodiversity Net Gain places on green infrastructure, and the necessity of integrating it into place making.
- The importance of Biodiversity Net Gain as an element in the overall Planning Balance
- How Local Plans are addressing net gain, and the part it can play in the less restricted planning system promised by the present Government.
Poll results provided an interesting glimpse into current experiences and concerns over Biodiversity Net Gain requirements: 46% of our attendees did not have any experience of net gain, and of those who did, approximately half had dealt with net gain requirements through payment to a third party provider and / or through a reduction in the developable area.
Other attendees had experience of additional conditions being attached to consents, and of delays to planning consents due to objections or queries from the LPA in relation to Biodiversity Net Gain. Only a quarter had managed to accommodate net gain requirements with changes to site layout and minimal cost implications.
The webinar considered the requirements that are going to be placed on local authorities by the forthcoming Environment Act and the likely additional demands this will put on local authorities as they seek to discharge their duties in relation to Biodiversity Net Gain. The vast majority (85%) of attendees were concerned or very concerned that this will make it difficult for applicants to engage in meaningful discussions about Biodiversity Net Gain. Of these, 11% had already experienced difficulties in relation to projects.
Feedback was very positive. David Smith, Partner at Campbell Reith said, “It was a very useful session, with plenty of thought-provoking things to take from it.”
If you are a planner, developer or architect and would like strategic advice on the risks and opportunities provided by net gain, or more specific, project-level advice on dealing with potential or emerging issues, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
If you would like to be informed of future webinars on the subject please email Rowena Scott-Campbell.
 It replaced a long standing regional net gain seminar due to be held in Bristol. Invitations were principally issued to those who had previously registered an interest in the event.