Biodiversity Net Gain introduced across North Somerset


From Monday 12 February new major developments must prove they can improve biodiversity in habitats by at least 10 per cent before building can begin. 

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is a planning approach that seeks to leave land in a measurably better state than it was before. It aims to improve biodiversity – the variety of animal and plant species, habitats and ecosystems on the planet.  

BNG uses a metric created by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which measures biodiversity in units. This means planners and developers can speak the same language, and work together to make sure habitats are being created and improved in a meaningful and measurable way.

From 12 February, plans for all major developments across England will need to demonstrate how they will deliver at least 10 per cent BNG. Their plan will need to be approved by the local planning authority before any work on site can commence. From 24 April, smaller developments across England will also need to meet these requirements.   

BNG will affect land managers and developers, as well as local planning authorities. Developers should try and maintain existing habitats on the land they’re planning to build on. When this isn’t possible, they should create a replacement habitat on the land they want to develop, or on other nearby land they own. This habitat must be maintained and monitored for at least 30 years.

If developers cannot create new habitats on land they own, they will need to buy replacement units from other providers. Where there is no local provider, or the required type of units are not available, credits from central government can be purchased as a last resort. The government will then use this money to create habitats elsewhere in the country. 

In addition to other landowners, North Somerset Council is looking to offer its own BNG service, so developers can buy replacement units from the local authority. Once details of the scheme have been finalised, more information will be available here:

Councillor Annemieke Waite, executive member for climate, waste and sustainability at North Somerset Council, said: “We’re committed to building a greener North Somerset, and Biodiversity Net Gain will help us make sure future developments are protecting and improving the environment, ensuring habitats thrive for years to come. 

“It was a privilege to attend the legislation’s national launch on 12 February at Belmont Estate in Wraxall. I was heartened that the scheme was launched in North Somerset, as great work in improving biodiversity is already underway in the region.

“I’m particularly excited to see what happens with North Somerset Council’s plan to introduce our own BNG scheme, which should benefit local land that we all use and enjoy.”

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