News & Views

The footage below shows lesser horseshoe bats Rhinolophus hipposideros emerging from a stone shed that supports a maternity roost. It was captured in early August 2019 by BSG Ecology’s Guy Miller and Hannah Daniels, using one of BSG Ecology’s FLIR T650sc thermal imaging cameras. The location is near Abergavenny, Monmouthshire.
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.
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.
Steart Marshes in Somerset is one of the largest examples of managed retreat (coastal realignment) in England. As a result of its design, it has rapidly become of great importance for biodiversity, and is also delivering wider ecosystem services benefits. In this article, BSG Ecology Partner Peter Shepherd reflects on the lessons that can be learned from projects such as Steart if we are to deliver the bigger, better and better connected network of habitats envisioned for Britain by Sir John Lawton in his 2010 review[1]
BSG Ecology now has five consultants who have been awarded Chartership by the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM). Chartership represents a considerable personal achievement, as it both recognises technical expertise and is the culmination of a lot of hard work. It should also provide our clients with the confidence that the advice they receive from BSG will help ensure positive outcomes for their projects.
We are delighted to announce that BSG Ecology has won the best Small-scale Mitigation Award and Tony Bradshaw Award (for outstanding best practice) from CIEEM, the leading professional membership body representing and supporting professional ecologists and environmental managers. We were also short-listed for the Best Medium Consultancy of the Year award (which we had previously won in 2018).