The BNG Planning Policy in Wiltshire
Coinciding with the introduction of the Environment Act 2021, biodiversity net gain (BNG) emerged as one of a handful of core policies that aim to combat damaging effects on the environment and enhance the natural world moving forwards. In terms of planning, BNG has a significant impact, as it insists on developers maintaining the same standard of biodiversity value before increasing it by an additional 10%.
A two-year transition period put in place by the UK government enabled local authorities and developers the chance to learn more about the policy before it becomes mandatory. Even with this option, a large number of local councils opted to follow the planning requirement ahead of time, including Wiltshire Council, who will insist on receiving evidence that BNG has been integrated into applicable developments.
Wiltshire’s Support of Biodiversity Net Gain
As a way of offering transparency and guidance to developers in regards to the biodiversity net gain policy and how it would need to be factored into current and future planning projects, Wiltshire Council released a page on biodiversity and development in relation to planning and building control that features a section on biodiversity net gain.
Aligning with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), Wiltshire Council explain their implementation of biodiversity net gain within Core Policy 50 of the Wiltshire Core Strategy. The strategy enforces that developments present no net loss and 10% net gain of biodiversity following the completion of planning projects in Wiltshire, and that planning applications can only be granted if the planning officer has received evidence that measurable net gains of biodiversity will be met.
Enhancing Planning Through BNG
Upon receiving royal assent in 2021, the Environment Bill upgraded to the Environment Act, and with it, all policies within the act became part of UK law. Barring a handful of exemptions, BNG will now apply to a broad range of planning projects across England, with local planning authorities entitled to insist on developers demonstrating application of the policy within their projects.
A local council won’t even consider an application for planning permission without evidence of consideration to biodiversity net gain. Due to this factor alone, it is vitally important that BNG is not only incorporated into planning projects but also integrated correctly. By reaching out to a licensed ecological consultant, you can take on the expertise of a capable professional to achieve the planning requirement successfully.
In order to calculate ecological enhancements on the site required to maintain the same level of biodiversity and increase upon that level by a further 10%, the ecologist will need to work out the biodiversity value pre-development and post-development. After indexing all ecological features and identifying any ecological constraints, the ecological surveyor will determine a current value. The post-development value will be predicted based on the plans of the project. Any contrast between the two figures will point towards the actions needed to achieve BNG.
Assessments to Support Biodiversity Net Gain
Any developers staging projects in the Wiltshire area could benefit greatly from learning more about biodiversity net gain, especially as it will be an active principle in future planning. However, it is important to note that an understanding of BNG will not act as a substitute for an ecologist. An ecological consultant will be needed for undertaking a biodiversity net gain assessment and producing the corresponding biodiversity net gain plan.
The ecological surveyor will identify and record all ecological features on the development site. Comparing the current state of the site and expected state following completion of the development, the ecologist will determine the alterations to the project and site needed to meet the planning requirement. Methods of achieving the 10% net gain of biodiversity will then be presented to the developer, giving them all they need to remain within the rules of the policy.
Due to being seen as valued information from a credible source, your local planning officer will rate a BNG plan highly and use it as key data during the process of considering applications for planning consent. All you need to do is pass it on to the planning department of your local council, and they should see no reason but to grant a planning condition on your site.
Contact Arbtech About BNG Plans
At Arbtech, we pride ourselves on providing quotes that are specific to the site and project, as well as the general needs of the client. With this in mind, we would advise that all clients speak to us directly by calling us or filling out our online quote form, and give us details about your site and project so we can produce a free quote that matches your own bespoke specifications.
Once you confirm that you are happy to move forward, we can arrange for an ecologist to visit your site, undertake the necessary assessments and produce a BNG plan. Using their experience and knowledge of biodiversity net gain and the relationship between ecology and planning, they can support you in meeting the requirements of Wiltshire Council and securing planning consent.