Biodiversity Net Gain – Sheffield City Council

Applying the biodiversity net gain policy to your development may be a daunting prospect, but it is perfectly feasible to meet the requirements of Sheffield City Council by following a bespoke BNG plan.

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Importance of the BNG Policy

Within the Environment Act 2021 is a list of policies intended to protect and enhance the natural environment, with biodiversity net gain (BNG) featuring as one of the most impactful parts of it. The policy has the ability to influence development, as it involves evaluating a development site before and after a substantial number of planning projects with the intention of increasing the original biodiversity value by a minimum 10% improvement.

Even though the BNG policy became a part of the law at the same time that the wider Environment Act did, a two-year transition period was gifted by the government, enabling both developers and local authorities to become better acquainted with it before having to enforce it. After that period concluded, it became mandatory, meaning that Sheffield City Council and other local councils in Yorkshire were able to impose penalties on any developers that fell under the BNG requirement and failed to show consideration for it.

Working the Policy into Planning Guidance

In a technical advice note from September 2023, biodiversity net gain was explained at length by Sheffield City Council, setting up the developers for what’s to come and demonstrating how it will directly apply to the local area. Sections of the document include an introduction to the policy, background surrounding the policy, relevant planning considerations, the planning application process in relation to the policy, and an overview of the BNG assessment process.

As well as the local planning authority in Sheffield, developers aiming to remain in line with the planning policy will also have to provide assurances that they are operating within the new local plan or biodiversity action plan (BAP) from the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and the local nature recovery strategy (LNRS). Any relevant local community groups could also cause issues if certain protected species are present, including the Sheffield Bird Study Group, South Yorkshire Badger Group or South Yorkshire Bat Group (SYBG). Such a list of potential obstacles shouldn’t, however, intimidate developers, as it can all be bypassed using the correct guidance.

Parameters Set by Biodiversity Net Gain

Back when the biodiversity net gain policy was first announced in 2019, it was clear that its introduction would pose potential concerns for developers up and down the country, particularly as it would apply to the majority of planning projects moving forward. Simply disregarding the existence of the policy isn’t an option either, as it will only hinder the planning process, leading to delays in the application for planning permission and a chance of fines or imprisonment depending on the severity.

In order to improve the standard of biodiversity to a better state, two measurements need to be taken before and after the development. The first will be based on the actual condition of the site and the second will be predicted using the development plans and as much documentation as the developer can provide. Any deficit between the two measurements can then be distinguished and eliminated before building on it by a further 10% minimum increase.

Comparing Pre-Development and Post-Development Value

Despite the opportunity to become better accustomed to the BNG policy carrying numerous benefits, nothing can equate to the insight and expertise provided by a professional ecologist, and no local planning authorities will allow for planning applications without the input of an ecological consultancy such as ours. With this in mind, a pivotal next step would be to reach out to us so we can conduct a BNG assessment and produce a biodiversity net gain plan for your local authority to consider.

All ecological assets would be indexed and given a valuation during a BNG survey, and from there, the ecological consultant can establish the current value of the site. Between that and the predicted biodiversity value after the development, the ecological surveyor will be able to work out what is needed to achieve BNG, utilising the mitigation hierarchy as a method of making the correct judgements regarding present ecological features in conjunction with the development plans.

Whenever the BNG requirement simply cannot be met, the number of biodiversity units will have to be acquired elsewhere off-site. Regardless of the outcome of an assessment, all details will feature within the resulting BNG plan, including maps and images from the site, outcomes from the assessment, and any supporting surveys that may be imperative to a successful planning application. It will then be ready to be passed on to the local planning authority, helping the planning system and the application for planning consent.

Speak to Our Team For Assistance

Across all parts of Sheffield, the River Don and the green spaces in the surrounding area, our team are available to assist with services to support planning while enabling the BNG mandate. Unlike other ecological consultancies, we don’t merely supply an ecological surveyor to your site from far away. Instead, you will be given a nearby ecologist with local knowledge of the local council, local planning requirements and local wildlife sites.

Everything we do is conducted with the influence of relevant regulators and organisations, such as DEFRA and Natural England, and we can even offer a free quote without obligation simply by passing on the details of your site and project to us. Either email us, call us or complete an online quote form, and we can talk you through the cost of a biodiversity net gain assessment. By following our guidance, you should see no issue in securing net gains of biodiversity and obtaining planning permission.

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