Ecology Consulting

Recent months have seen a change in momentum in terms of biodiversity net gain, with the various components needed to drive the process: the policy; the Defra Metric, and some of the detail of how the process will work all taking significant steps forward. This article provides an overview of the evolution of the process to date, explores the emerging implications of policy, and reflects on the change in dynamic between planning authorities and developers that is likely to occur now that biodiversity net gain is a policy requirement in England.
The commitment of the Government to mandate biodiversity net gain in England through the Environment Bill, and the revision of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in 2018 to put more emphasis on net gain are both likely to drive a requirement for higher resolution habitat data to be routinely collected for development projects. Habitat classification needs to be robust in order to ensure that biodiversity metrics critical to calculating net gain can be accurately applied and their outcomes withstand scrutiny by nature conservation consultees and third parties. The UK Habitat Classification is a potentially important tool in de-risking planning applications, as it provides a more robust outcome than Phase 1 habitat survey.