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Biodiversity Net Gain – Chichester District Council

Due to our coverage across South East England and all over the country, we can assist with meeting biodiversity net gain on new development proposals in Chichester, guiding the actions of developers using bespoke BNG plans.

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Preventing Unnecessary Harm to the Environment

In an attempt to enhance the state of the natural environment during development proposals, biodiversity net gain (BNG) was included as part of the Environment Act in 2021. It focuses specifically on providing nature-based solutions and encouraging sustainable development to maintain and enhance biodiversity by an additional 10% after a planning project has been completed. Developers are able to remain within the policy by calling in an expert to take a pre and post-development score of biodiversity on the site, comparing the two figures to determine what changes need to be made.

Over the course of a two-year transition period, the country’s numerous local councils were given ownership over the decision to enforce the planning policy ahead of time or wait until it was mandatory. Additionally, planning departments were within their rights to insist on an increase in net gains of biodiversity beyond the 10% minimum. Chichester District Council had the same level of flexibility, but with BNG becoming an active part of the law in February 2024, the local planning authority would demand the application of biodiversity net gain or refuse planning applications.

Current Evidence of the Policy

With the policy forming a new part of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), both Chichester District Council and the wider West Sussex County Council made sure that their local plan takes account of biodiversity net gain. The local plan area includes parts on the policy across the district council website, with a section titled ‘climate change and natural environment‘ emphasising the need for biodiversity net gain on new development within the local area. It states that protecting wildlife corridors and promoting long-term sustainable growth of wildlife sites are material planning considerations moving forward.

During the process of providing landscape guidelines relating to BNG, the plan also reiterates the critical nature of water and the environment, confirming the potential need for mitigating flood risk. The website references the use of a landscape capacity study, other studies commissioned by Chichester local authorities and important sources to encourage appropriately managed nature conservation in every development strategy. Anyone staging a development can satisfy the requirements of the plan by arranging the correct ecological surveys with our team and receiving a BNG plan afterwards.

BNG’s Position in Planning

From the point that biodiversity net gain was announced within the Environment Act in 2019, the unanimous response was that it would act as a crucial part of proposed development schemes in the future. As well as improving the current state of biodiversity, eliminating any predicted negative impact on nature recovery and potentially aiding the West Sussex landscape, air quality, noise pollution, rural character and water quality – and contributing to climate change adaptation – BNG helps to see a planning application granted by the local authorities and the developer bypass penalties including prison sentences and unlimited fines.

Similar in ways to landscape character assessments for inspecting the local plan area’s natural landscape and the specific four national landscape areas of Low Weald, the South Coast Plain, the South Downs National Park and Wealden Greensand, a BNG assessment will determine the landscape value of a development site. It will also, however, take any adverse impact on the right place into consideration, factor in all nearby protected species such as bat and bird populations, the concerns of local communities and the potential impact of the development proposal. A secondary value will then be created to ensure that the planning proposal retains economic benefits before achieving a 10% net increase.

A BNG assessment will then result in the ecological surveyor producing a management plan for hitting the key objective of the policy and other corresponding relevant legislation accordingly. A high level of BNG plans will be sufficient in securing planning consent, but if making space on the site for new habitats and new trees to achieve BNG isn’t feasible, it is possible to provide important guidance in an alternative way. Not all sites designated for meeting the BNG policy will be able to realistically see it through – such as small sites or new housing developments with limited designated areas for growing biodiversity – leaving the option of purchasing biodiversity units off-site as a last resort.

Gauging Required Net Gain of Biodiversity

Learning more about biodiversity net gain has been something that many developers, homeowners and other individuals staging a development have opted to do, but even the most extensive understanding won’t persuade planning officers to ignore the need for a BNG plan. If you want to learn more about them or would like to arrange an assessment of your site, we would recommend checking out the in-depth biodiversity net gain plan on the Arbtech site.

Shortly after researching the development site for any potential protected species and other ecological features in the local vicinity, the ecologist will attend the site in person for an analysis of all assets that could contribute to the accumulative biodiversity value. A predetermined biodiversity metric will combine all bird species, water voles, trees, hedgerows and all other ecological features across the many areas of the site into a figure that will reflect the current state of biodiversity.

A secondary value will then be formulated based on the plans of the development and conversations with the developer. Until the figures are the same but with an additional 10% increase in the post-development measurement, the ecological surveyor will continue to look for solutions. A mitigation hierarchy may play a role in making decisions for obtaining the required BNG increase, and with all details included in the plan, there should be no problem with seeing planning permission granted by the local authority.

Send Across Your Information for a Quote

From Chichester Harbour and the local nature reserve in the city specifically to any safeguarding areas and character areas in other parts of South East England, our ecological surveys are equipped to fulfil the legal duty of BNG and the local needs of the corresponding authorities. Whether you are at the planning stage in your development or are merely setting up future plans for a prospective development, our team can provide you with the help you need to maintain within the strict parameters of biodiversity net gain, helped by the latest standards from the Environment Agency (EA), DEFRA, CIEEM and Natural England.

Plan ahead and prevent having to make significant alterations to your development plans partway through the process by speaking to the team at Arbtech about a bespoke BNG plan. Using information about your site and project, we can create a free quote for you, and all you need to do to reach this point is fill out a form on our website, call us, email us or contact us over our social media accounts. A licensed ecological consultant can then attend your site on a date of your choice to conduct the BNG assessment, and a BNG plan will be sent to you shortly after to satisfy BNG, enable your project to progress and assist your application for planning consent.

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