Biodiversity Net Gain
The Chancellor confirmed in the Spring Statement the UK government will mandate biodiversity net gain within the coming Environment Bill. Following consultation by Defra (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs) The UK Government on the 13th March 2019 confirmed that all new developments must ensure that they not only preserve the current biodiversity but show an overall increase in it. What does this mean for future developments?
A net gain in biodiversity will require developers to ensure that any habitats for wildlife that are impacted on site are improved through enhancement and left in a demonstrably superior state post development. The current ecological studies that are required for planning are still needed with the assessment of the types of habitats and the conditions recorded. The planning applications will then need to demonstrate how the biodiversity is going to be improved post development, examples of some of the methods being put forward are through the creation of green corridors, more tree planting etc.
The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management published the following statement: “Quite simply, a policy of no net loss has not worked and we need to do something different if we are to make any progress towards reaching our biodiversity targets.” Naturally if developments are unable to show no net loss when an environment is changing to an urban form rather than refine the process or look at the short fall in the method of measurement of the biodiversity the answer is to seek a net gain instead and require more from what is currently a failing process.
The planning system and developers have an important role in ensuring the sustainability of our built environments but the process as a whole needs to be refined if it is to achieve the biodiversity targets and not just become another tick box within the current planning system. If the UK is to see a positive move in future urban expansions, better designed areas and a net gain in biodiversity then the burdens on sites as a whole paying for infrastructure elsewhere or other forms of tax need to be lessened.
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