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Biodiversity Net Gain – Forest of Dean District Council

If you aren’t fully aware of how to accomplish the biodiversity net gain mandate in the Forest of Dean, call on Arbtech, and we can help you to achieve BNG, secure a successful planning application, and progress your development.

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Ensuring Compliance with the BNG Policy

Multiple policies were introduced as part of the Environment Act 2021, each with an intention to reverse negative impacts on nature and build on it. Biodiversity net gain (BNG) is a perfect example of this because it does exactly that, leaving developers with a duty to maintain the same standard of biodiversity before enhancing it by an additional 10% minimum. It is only possible to successfully achieve this accurately through sourcing a pre and post-development rating and ensuring it matches the expectations of BNG.

Up until February 2024, all local councils were able to pick and choose if they felt that it was necessary to expect delivery of biodiversity net gain prior to the completion of a two-year transition period. In the time between announcing BNG and eventually releasing it, local planning authorities could also decide whether 10% was enough of an increase. Certain local authorities opted for higher, moving up to 15% or even 20%, but fortunately, the Forest of Dean District Council only demanded the mandatory 10% increase from developers.

Working Biodiversity Net Gain Into Local Plans

The websites of local councils up and down the country have been updated to reflect the integration of biodiversity net gain, with the local plan for the Forest of Dean District Council demonstrating compliance with the policy. In the wildlife and biodiversity section within the planning and building department, a page on biodiversity net gain clearly sets out the basics before referring visitors to a document that provides comprehensive guidance for local planning authorities and developers.

In addition to understanding not only what the policy is but also how the specific local council enforces it, developers should also consider how they are going to operate within the rules of BNG. The most effective way of doing this would be by arranging for our team to visit your development site for a thorough BNG assessment, creating a BNG plan afterwards as a plan of action for meeting the requirement, appeasing the local authority, and guiding the planning officer with crucial planning decisions.

How BNG Applies to Modern Planning

It was unavoidable that all developers, local planning authorities and any other individuals and companies in the development industry would need to quickly become accustomed to biodiversity net gain. As far back as the original announcement in 2019, many people in planning have been growing an understanding of BNG, and the reason for that isn’t only to bolster the likelihood of obtaining successful planning applications, but also to avoid the chance of penalties such as fines or imprisonment.

Two different methods are used to meet the requirements of BNG. The first is the most desirable and most common, where the ecological consultant will compare the biodiversity value of the site with a post-development reading and identify methods of matching the same figure before building on it by a further 10%. The second is a last resort but can be used if it isn’t possible to complete the first option on the site, where biodiversity units of the same value will be purchased outside of the site to initiate BNG elsewhere.

Measuring a Site’s Pre and Post-Development Value

While it would be advisable for anyone involved in planning to learn more about the policy, nothing can compensate for a biodiversity net gain plan assembled by a team as advanced as ours. As soon as a brief desk study into the site has been completed, an ecological consultant will visit the site in person to note down all present ecological features, including any protected species of animals and plants. Each asset will be given a numerical value based on category and condition, and with all the values combined, an accurate pre-development biodiversity rating will be established.

Through in-depth conversations with the developer and analysing the development plans at length, the ecologist will be able to create a predicted post-development biodiversity rating. The aim will then be to remove any deficit between the two figures and make sure a minimum 10% increase can realistically be added, even if it means referring to the mitigation hierarchy to implement mitigation and compensation measures. An alternative route would be to offset biodiversity elsewhere, but more often than not, on-site improvements will suffice and the BNG plan can aid the planning process and the planning application submitted to the local authority.

Call Our Ecology Team for Assistance

Our ecological consultants are able to undertake BNG assessments at any level, from a homeowner self-build to a large housing development, and everything in between. For private or professional land or property developments, we can ensure that your planning process isn’t disrupted by the stipulations of biodiversity net gain and instead follows the requirement precisely and accordingly in advance. With our help, you will receive successful planning applications granted by your local planning authority in the Forest of Dean area and be able to continue your development plans without any unexpected issues or obstacles.

Ecological surveys situated all over the country mean that we can support developments in the Forest of Dean and all other locations across Gloucestershire. Receive a free quote from the administration team at Arbtech by completing a quote form online, visiting our social media pages across all platforms, calling us or emailing us. A valuation for a BNG assessment and plan based on your development site will then be sent to you within a few short hours, and if you agree to work with us, we will set a qualified ecologist to manage the assessment process, obtain a 10% increase as required by law, and ensure nothing stands between you and a granted planning application from the local authority in the Forest of Dean.

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