Application of BNG in Dorset
Created with the intention of showing consideration for the impact planning projects have on the environment, biodiversity net gain (BNG) features as one of several policies within the Environment Act 2021. BNG insists upon developers not only maintaining the same standard of biodiversity on a development site once the project is complete, but also increasing the biodiversity value by an additional 10%.
A two-year transition period initiated by the UK government gave both developers and local councils an opportunity to learn more about the practical application of biodiversity net gain prior to it becoming a mandatory consideration. That said, plenty of local planning authorities across England including within Dorset Council are opting to follow the rules of the policy early, leading to the need for developers to present evidence that their project operates within the requirements of BNG.
Policies That Apply to Biodiversity Net Gain
Once it became apparent that the BNG policy would affect planning in the county, Dorset Council created a document that detailed the relationship between developments and planning applications, and how local biodiversity in Dorset can be harmed as a result of planning projects. The Dorset Biodiversity Appraisal Protocol (DBAP) sets out how developers should approach current and future planning projects within the rules of BNG.
The DBAP applies to any and all development sites that are 0.1 hectares or larger in size, or in any case of protected species being present on a development site. It sets out the three primary steps to follow in order to remain within the limits of the policy, including the necessity to organise ecological surveys at the correct time of year and receive an ecology report for passing on to the planning department of your local council, greatly increasing the likelihood of gaining planning permission.
BNG in Developments
Upon gaining royal assent, the Environment Bill transformed into the Environment Act and pushed all corresponding policies through as parts of UK law. Biodiversity net gain was included, and barring a few exceptions, the policy will apply to the majority of planning projects staged in England. In order to ensure strict adherence to the policy, local planning authorities will only consider planning applications if there is clear consideration to BNG.
With an influence on the process of gaining planning permission, integrating biodiversity net gain into a project correctly is crucial. A reliable way of making these assurances is through reaching out to an ecological surveyor, who can then visit the development site to ensure that the necessary steps are being taken to achieve BNG.
An ecologist will use the deficit between measurements of the pre-development and post-development biodiversity value to determine the changes needed to meet the planning requirement. At this point, all current ecological features will be indexed to gauge the existing biodiversity value and the plans of the project will be used to predict the future biodiversity value. Using their insight and expertise, the ecological consultant will determine effective next steps to eliminate a deficit between the two figures before increasing biodiversity value by a further 10%.
Plans for Biodiversity Net Gain
During the two-year transition period, developers are encouraged to grow their knowledge of biodiversity net gain in preparation for it becoming mandated. That said, no preparation for BNG can substitute the need for an ecological consultant to attend the site and begin developing a biodiversity net gain plan. Following an assessment on a development site, an ecologist will produce a BNG plan to explain outcomes from the survey and effective changes that will meet the 10% increase of biodiversity.
Local planning authorities regard BNG plans as tangible information from a reliable source that they will use as a basis for accepting or denying planning applications. As soon as you receive a completed biodiversity plan, it should be passed on to the local planning officer for consideration. You should then find no problem with securing planning consent on your site.
Reach Out For a BNG Plan
Part of what makes Arbtech unique is that we don’t charge over the odds for assessments. Instead, we base the cost of a survey on the specifications of the development site and the purpose of the project. That way, you won’t be charged the same for a small site with minimal ecological features as you would for a large site with numerous ecological features.
To start the process, call us directly, fill out the quote form above or visit our contact page. Based on your details, we will send you a free quote for carrying out a BNG assessment on your site and producing a BNG plan, and if you are happy to continue, we can help you with satisfying Dorset Council and achieving a planning condition.