Biodiversity net gain regulations come into force today.

12 February 2024

The government’s long-awaited biodiversity net gain (BNG) regulations have finally come into force today, meaning developers will be required to demonstrate at least a ten per cent benefit for nature on all major schemes in order to obtain planning permission.

The requirement for small sites (between one and nine dwellings) will commence on 2 April 2024.

In November 2023, the government announced that BNG will be measured in biodiversity units calculated through the statutory metric. This calculates how many units a habitat contains before development, so developers can then calculate how many biodiversity units are needed to provide at least ten per cent BNG. To generate the ten per cent gain, BNG guidance asks developers to prioritise onsite enhancements, followed by offsite enhancements and, as a last resort, the purchase of biodiversity credits.  The credits will be available as a last resort in an attempt to prevent delays in the planning system.

The government has also confirmed that “Significant on-site and all off-site gains will need a legal agreement with a responsible body or local authority to monitor the habitat improvements over the 30-year period”.

The government has committed £10.6 million of funding to help local authorities “recruit and expand ecologist teams” and increase capacity to help fulfil their duty under the requirement. 

Despite this funding however, the MEP team is concerned that the scheme’s introduction is likely to impact on local authority planning department resources. However, we are of the opinion that, as with all new regulations, there will be early teething problems but feel confident that these will eventually settle down.  It should also be noted that BNG is not new; many authorities have required developers to demonstrate BNG as part of their proposals for some time.

Should you have any queries relating to BNG and the associated implications, please do not hesitate to contact the MEP team who has an inhouse expert to advise further on this issue.

email: office@morganelliot.co.uk

tel: 07771 572832

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