GOVERNMENT has set out next steps on plans for new housing, commercial and infrastructure developments to be “nature positive” by confirming that new legislation will be introduced in November.
This is the first step towards putting Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) rules onto a formal statutory footing.
Under the updated timetable developers in England will be required to deliver 10% “Biodiversity Net Gain” from January 2024 onwards when building new housing, industrial or commercial developments.
This means that by law they must deliver a net positive for the local environment, for example by creating new habitats and green spaces. Biodiversity Net Gain for small sites will still be applicable from April 2024, and implementation for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects remains planned for 2025.
Biodiversity Net Gain was introduced through the Environment Act and will be fundamental in helping the country meet its target to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030, while helping to create more beautiful communities and deliver new homes.
To support the implementation of Biodiversity Net Gain, the government has already committed over £15 million to help Local Planning Authorities prepare. Many housing developers are also already successfully creating Biodiversity Net Gain through their developments.
By the end of November, Government will publish all guidance and the regulations including:
- The statutory biodiversity metric, critical for calculating the correct biodiversity gain
- The draft biodiversity gain plan template, which will help developers prepare for what they will need to complete during the planning application stages
- The Habitat Management and Monitoring Plan template, which will set out how the improved significant on-site and off-site habitats will be managed for the long term
- A package of Biodiversity Net Gain guidance that sets out further advice for landowners, developers, and Local Planning Authorities around their role and responsibilities in delivering mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain
These materials will ensure that developers and planning authorities have access to the necessary tools and information to effectively implement Biodiversity Net Gain in January 2024, ensuring they deliver the homes that the country needs while benefitting nature and local environments.
Trudy Harrison, Biodiversity Minister said, “Biodiversity Net Gain will ensure new developments work for both wildlife and people. We will create nature-rich places whilst ensuring communities get the new homes and infrastructure they need.
“The updated timetable and guidance will help smooth the transition ahead of Biodiversity Net Gain going fully live in January 2024.”
Developers and planning authorities should use the additional time to familiarise themselves with the guidance and prepare for the integration of Biodiversity Net Gain into the planning system.