Devon’s Support of the BNG Policy
A key policy within the Environment Act 2021, biodiversity net gain (BNG) shines a spotlight over the impact on the environment caused by planning projects and aims to reverse the effects, both now and in the future. Under the rules of BNG, the majority of developments will need to not only maintain the same level of biodiversity but also build on it by a further 10% once completed.
Due to the significant change that it will have on planning going forwards, the government initiated a two-year transition period, allowing developers and local councils time to adjust to the policy before it becomes commonplace. Although local councils weren’t encouraged to enforce BNG straight away, certain authorities across England, including Devon County Council, opted to insist upon receiving evidence of consideration to biodiversity net gain from developers ahead of time.
Biodiversity Net Gain Consideration in Devon
Following the launch of BNG within the Environment Act in November 2021, the local council in Devon released a document in February 2022 with the purpose of informing and supporting developers in meeting the conditions of the mandate.
The Devon Planning Guidance for Biodiversity Compensation and Net Gain offers a comprehensive overview of BNG, how it will be integrated into planning specifically in Devon, and factors that play a role in calculating and delivering BNG on a development site.
For example, the guide includes comprehensive sections on:
- Biodiversity metrics
- Biodiversity units / biodiversity credits
- Ecological habitats and protected species
- GIS data standards
- On-site and off-site compensation
- Policies and legislation
- Stages of planning
Planning with Integration of BNG
After gaining royal assent in 2021, the Environment Bill became the Environment Act, with biodiversity net gain featuring as one of a handful of core policies. Aside from a few specific exemptions, BNG will apply to a significant portion of development projects in England, and local planning authorities will be required to insist that developers provide evidence that the policy has been integrated into their project.
It can’t be stressed enough how important correct implementation of BNG is, as failure to present evidence of consideration to BNG will lead to the local council refusing to even consider your planning application. Ensuring suitable adherence to biodiversity net gain will be helped by the intervention of an ecological consultant, who will be able to determine any changes needed in a project to meet the planning requirement.
In the process of calculating current and predicted biodiversity value, ecological consultants will measure the existing value by indexing all ecological features on the site using a predetermined biodiversity metric. The ecological surveyor will then discuss the project with the developer to anticipate the likely value upon completion. Through comparing both measurements, the ecologist will be able to see whether or not a deficit exists, and if it does, eliminate it before building on the value by at least 10%.
Assessments and Plans for Biodiversity Net Gain
Holding a knowledge of biodiversity net gain would be advisable to any developers looking to stage a development in an area that currently follows the rules of the mandate. An understanding of BNG, however, will not substitute the requirement for an ecologist to visit the development site and undertake an assessment before producing a biodiversity net gain plan.
During a biodiversity net gain assessment, a licensed ecological consultant will visit the site and record all ecological features present. They will then align the current state of the site with the plans of the project to determine the likely damages to biodiversity caused by the development. Using evidence from the assessment, information from the developer and their own expertise, the ecologist will develop a strategic approach for reaching the necessary 10% increase in biodiversity post-development.
Most importantly, a completed biodiversity net gain plan incorporates all of the credible, trustworthy and reliable information that your local planning officer will take on board as they make a decision to grant or deny a planning condition on your site, as well as the guidlines of Natural England and other responsible bodies that understand the paratemers intended to enhance biodiversity. As such, the biodiversity net gain plan should be passed on to the local planning authority as a method of strengthening your application for planning consent.
Speak to Our Team About BNG Plans
Each of our quotes are accurate to the needs and specifications of our clients to guarantee a price that reflects the size of your site and the scale of your project. Simply call Arbtech directly, fill out our quote form online or visit our contact page to see our other communication options, give us as much detail as possible about your site and project, and our team will send you a free quote via email.
Assuming you are happy with the quote, return the quote form to us and we will work with you to choose a desirable date and time to attend your site. With the help of one of our ecologists, we will assist you in calculating BNG on your site, meeting the requirements of the planning policy, gaining planning permission, and pleasing the conditions of Devon County Council.