17 Jul 2019 BSG Ecology establishes Biodiversity Net Gain Policy Tracker
Since the Government announced plans for new developments to deliver Biodiversity Net Gain on a mandatory basis in England, many local planning authorities have begun the process of incorporating net gain policies into their Local Plans. It is crucial that developers, planning consultants and ecological consultants understand these policies if successful projects are to be delivered. BSG Ecology has therefore developed a policy tracker for England to identify where Local Plan biodiversity net gain policies exist, where they are in preparation, and the Local Plan review stage authorities have reached.
As a precursor to establishing the tracker, we completed a review of 77 Local Plans in the south east of England. This found that 78% either had draft biodiversity net gain policies in place, or were under review and hence will be highly likely to include a new policy. It also established that seven local planning authorities (of the 77 reviewed) had approved Local Plans with Biodiversity Net Gain policies.
A notable finding of this review was that the policies of a number of urban authorities require all Biodiversity Net Gain to be delivered on-site (as opposed to allowing for any off-site provision). In the south east of England, where land availability and prices are at a premium, such policies clearly have the potential to be costly. This demonstrates the need to take account of them and their implications in pre-application discussions. It was also interesting to note from the review that very few of the Biodiversity Net Gain policies were prescriptive with regard to the metric that needed to be applied; it is hoped that the forthcoming Defra metric 2.0 will set a new much needed national standard, as the various metrics currently in use can result in quite different outcomes.
We envisage that our policy tracker will be a valuable tool for developers to identify and assess the implications for land development; we can review this as part of the desk study element of our biodiversity net gain service.
If you would like to find out what the net gain policy requirements are for your proposed development or land portfolio, please contact one of our offices.