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Biodiversity Net Gain – Somerset County Council

For developers in Somerset to meet the requirements of the biodiversity net gain policy, it would be advisable to reach out to an ecologist for a BNG plan, bolstering planning applications in the eyes of Somerset County Council.

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BNG Compliance in Somerset

Designed to not only maintain the standard of biodiversity value during planning projects but build on it by a further 10% increase, biodiversity net gain (BNG) is one of several policies within the Environment Act 2021. As developments have a negative impact on the natural world, BNG will look to restore and enhance the environment.

Although the UK government triggered a two-year transition period for developers and local councils to grasp an understanding of the policy before it becomes mandated nationwide, many local planning authorities are already asking for evidence that BNG has been worked into planning projects moving forward. Somerset County Council are one of the local authorities insisting on proof of adherence to biodiversity net gain ahead of time, and due to this, developers will need to follow BNG requirements if they are staging a project in Somerset.

Somerset County Council’s Application of Biodiversity Net Gain

For complete clarity on the implementation of biodiversity net gain and other schemes that will contribute to the health of the environment in Somerset, a strategy from Somerset County Council explains the methods for enhancing the natural environment and biodiversity as a whole.

A section within the strategy lists the current Natural Environment Action Plan, including biodiversity net gain. It details how Somerset County Council planners will establish a method of delivering BNG that is universal for the county, and how a Biodiversity Supplementary Planning Document will help to offer further guidance for satisfying the requirement correctly. Additionally, the strategy highlights that BNG will partner the Somerset Pollinator Action Plan that is designed to reduce a decline in bees, butterflies, hoverflies and moths in the county.

Relationship Between Planning and BNG

A vast number of planning projects in England will be affected by biodiversity net gain, and developers will be required to provide evidence of the policy within their development plans or face issues with securing a planning condition. Since the Environment Act transformed from the Environment Bill through gaining royal assent, all of the policies within the act – including biodiversity net gain – became a part of law.

The intervention of a qualified, licensed and capable ecological surveyor will guarantee strict application of the BNG policy in your planning project. By undertaking a thorough assessment of the entire development site, the ecologist can measure the ecological value of the specific plot of land and, if the proposed development isn’t likely to achieve BNG, put forward mitigation measures that will reach the goals of the planning requirement.

Through taking a pre-development measurement based on the current biodiversity value of the site and a post-development measurement based on a predicted biodiversity value of how the site will be after the project, the ecological consultant can determine whether there is a deficit between the two figures. If there is, they will work out ways of bridging the gap between the two figures and then improve on the post-development prediction by another 10%.

Biodiversity Net Gain Plans from Licensed Ecologists

While it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea for developers to improve their knowledge and understanding of biodiversity net gain, nothing will compensate for the insights of an ecologist. Over the course of a visit to the development site, an ecological surveyor will carry out an assessment and use their findings to put together a biodiversity net gain plan.

After inspecting the site, all ecological features and constraints will be recorded and indexed to formulate a comprehensive and accurate overview of the biodiversity value. A combination of the current biodiversity measurement and the predicted future biodiversity measurement will then help the ecologist to determine the necessary changes needed to meet the criteria of BNG.

Along with offering potentially helpful data to developers, the BNG plan plays an even more important role in supporting planning applications. Planning departments within local councils treat BNG plans from ecological consultancies as reliable and trustworthy information, and as such, they will ease any qualms and remove any concerns the local authority has, increasing the likelihood of a successful planning condition.

Choose Arbtech for BNG Solutions

In order to provide costs that aren’t unnecessarily expensive and match the needs of our clients, Arbtech prices every quote using the bespoke specifications of each client’s site and project. For a free quote, all you need to do is visit our contact page, call us or fill out a quote form online, and one of our team will be in touch to speak to you about arranging a BNG assessment and plan.

Confirm that you are happy with the quote and we will be able to move forward in the process by arranging a time to visit your site for an assessment. One of our ecological consultants will then inspect your development site, produce a BNG plan, and support your application for planning permission by appeasing the demands of Somerset County Council.

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