Defra and Natural England Launch Biodiversity Metric 3.0

Defra and Natural England Launch Biodiversity Metric 3.0

The UK Government plans to enact the Environment Bill before the end of 2021. This will make the delivery of biodiversity (net) gain through the development planning process in England mandatory. To demonstrate biodiversity gain, Defra and Natural England have developed a biodiversity metric (‘the Defra metric’), which has gradually been refined through practical application, and has gone through a series of iterations.[1] 

The long awaited Biodiversity Metric 3.0 was launched by Defra and Natural England on 7 July 2021. This was accompanied by revised guidance and updated condition assessment information, and a new QGIS tool which enables data to be exported directly into Metric 3.0. This GIS tool will make the process more efficient and help ensure consistency between projects.

Two additional metrics were also released. The small sites metric is a simplified version of Biodiversity Metric 3.0 for small developments, with small sites being those as defined by the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended). The unexpected release was the beta version of the Environmental Benefits from Nature Tool (EBNT), which has been designed to work alongside Biodiversity Metric 3.0 and looks at the natural capital benefits that nature provides. These include pollination, reduced flood risk or recreational opportunities. It is important to note that the use of this EBNT metric is voluntary and is not currently encompassed in the draft Environment Bill.

Biodiversity Metric 3.0 and the small sites metrics are understood to become the national metrics as part of the revisions to the T&CPA, currently proposed as a new section 90A, schedule 7A (4).

All the metrics and associated documents can be found using these links to the Access to Evidence section of the Natural England website:

The Biodiversity Metric 3.0 – The Biodiversity Metric 3.0 – JP039

The Small Sites Metric – The Small Sites Metric – JP040

The Environmental Benefits from Nature Tool – The Environmental Benefits from Nature Tool – Beta Test Version – JP038

If you wish to talk to BSG about biodiversity gain and what the release of the Biodiversity Metric 3.0 and the new small sites metric means for your development, then please get in touch.

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[1] Many local planning authorities already have a Local Plan policy that requires biodiversity gain and are requesting it as part of their development decision making. Delivery against these policies has involved previous iterations of the Defra metric (and other regional metrics).