BNG in the Cheshire East Area
Following introduction of the Environment Act in November 2021, biodiversity net gain (BNG) has become an applicable planning policy to the majority of development projects across England. BNG was developed to counteract the negative effects of planning projects that has accumulated over several decades through increasing the state of biodiversity on each site by 10%. Using this approach, developers are encouraged to progress planning projects but with an eye on environmental impact.
Currently, local authorities and developers are able to learn about biodiversity net gain over a two-year transition period before it becomes mandated across England. However, many planning departments within local councils are already insisting on consideration of BNG or applications for planning permission will not even be reviewed. One such example is Cheshire East Council in North West England, and as such, anyone developing in this area will need to ensure that they are operating within the rules of the policy.
Biodiversity Net Gain in Chester East Council’s Planning Policies
Throughout the process of introducing BNG as a requirement of planning applications in the county, Cheshire East Council provided a brief overview in May 2021 before adding it to their collection of supplementary planning documents that inform anyone preparing a planning application.
Looking specifically at the first draft of the Biodiversity Net Gain Supplementary Planning Document, all of the information a developer could possibly need is explained at length. Not only does it include an overview of the concept of biodiversity net gain, but also how to measure biodiversity on a site, how biodiversity metrics work, area specific details in regards to local ecological networks, and even factors such as compensatory measures, the DEFRA biodiversity metric, long-term biodiversity management, the mitigation hierarchy, and the definition of natural assets on a development site.
The Impact of BNG on Planning
Designed to protect and enhance natural features in England during and following development projects, biodiversity net gain was first announced in the 2019 spring statement before becoming a part of UK law within the Environmental Bill 2021. With only a handful of exemptions, BNG will apply to a significant portion of planning projects, and ignoring the policy will lead to delays and penalties that could seriously harm developers and their development plans as a whole.
An ecologist will determine the biodiversity value of a site by using a universal metric to measure all ecological features on the site prior to the development. Based on the development plans, a second measurement will be taken, incorporating likely gains and losses to biodiversity caused by the planning project. Between the first and second measurement, the ecologist will be able to visualise whether or not the development will meet the requirements of BNG and, if it won’t, provide effective recommendations to achieve the rules of the policy.
Assessing Biodiversity Net Gain on a Development Site
With biodiversity net gain rapidly becoming a part of planning, forming an understanding of the policy and gaining the necessary help to implement it correctly is vital for any developers that it will apply to. An experienced, knowledgeable and qualified ecologist can offer the required insights to implement BNG successfully through developing a biodiversity net gain plan following a biodiversity net gain appraisal.
Over the course of a BNG assessment, an ecological consultant will carry out a thorough inspection of the site to gauge effective methods of meeting the requirements of the policy. At this stage, they can generate solutions that will increase biodiversity value in a way that cuts unnecessary costs and eliminates the need to find compensatory measures.
It is also more likely that the local council will accept an application for planning consent after seeing evidence that a licensed ecologist has inspected the specific plot of land, particularly if the physical assessment has concluded with the local planning authority receiving a BNG plan.
Arrange for Arbtech to Conduct a BNG Appraisal
Developers staging planning projects in the Cheshire East area would be advised to speak to Arbtech about our biodiversity net gain appraisals and plans immediately to ensure that the requirements of BNG are met. You will then be able to schedule a suitable time for one of our ecologists to visit your site and determine what changes are needed to achieve the mandate and satisfy Cheshire East Council.
Call the number above or fill in our quick quote form, and you will be able to speak to our team and provide them with details of your site and project. You will then be sent a free quote, and if you are happy to move forward, an ecological consultant will visit your site to conduct a biodiversity net gain appraisal, develop a BNG plan, and assist you with gaining planning permission.