While the UK government has recently adjusted the BNG timetable and pushed back the legislation to January 2024, which will require developers in England to deliver at least 10% Biodiversity Net Gain, they have committed to publishing the statutory instruments in November 2023. This includes:
- the statutory biodiversity metric, critical for calculating the correct biodiversity gain
- the draft biodiversity gain plan template, which will help developers prepare for what they will need to complete during the planning application stages
- the Habitat Management and Monitoring Plan template, which will set out how the improved significant on-site and off-site habitats will be managed for the long term
- a package of biodiversity net gain guidance that sets out further advice for landowners, developers, and Local Planning Authorities around their role and responsibilities in delivering mandatory biodiversity net gain
Biodiversity Net Gain is a cornerstone for preserving and enhancing our natural environment. It's a vital tool, and we must act promptly to ensure its seamless implementation.
The extended timeline now at our disposal offers a unique opportunity to secure the resounding success of BNG. Here are specific actions that can be taken to maximize the benefits of this additional time:
- Develop Clear and Concise Guidance and Tools: Collaboration between the government and relevant organizations should result in the creation of clear, concise, and user-friendly guidance and tools. These resources will prove invaluable to developers and landowners in navigating and fulfilling the new biodiversity requirements. Consider the development of checklists, templates, and case studies that offer practical insights and solutions.
- Provide Training and Support: Ensuring a seamless transition to the updated Biodiversity Net Gain requirements necessitates comprehensive training and support. The government and relevant bodies should organize workshops, webinars, and provide online resources. These initiatives will empower developers, landowners, and local authorities with the knowledge and skills needed to meet the new standards effectively.
- Build Public Awareness and Support: The success of the Biodiversity Net Gain scheme hinges on the support and engagement of the broader public. To achieve this, the government and relevant organizations should embark on public awareness campaigns. These campaigns can employ various channels, including media outreach, educational initiatives, and community engagement events. Fostering public understanding and enthusiasm for biodiversity preservation is crucial for the scheme's overall effectiveness.
The adjustment in the BNG regulation timeline coincides with a crucial moment for nature conservation in the UK. The government has set ambitious goals to secure nature's recovery and protect 30% of the nation's land by 2030. However, recent reports have revealed a disheartening reality: the UK ranks as one of the most nature-depleted countries globally, with one in six species facing the imminent risk of extinction in Great Britain.
BNG, when executed thoughtfully, has the potential to empower the development sector to be a force for positive change in the realm of nature conservation. It's important to understand that BNG doesn't replace existing requirements to protect wildlife. Instead, it mandates that, in cases where habitat damage is unavoidable, developers must ensure at least a 10% net gain in biodiversity. This is achieved through activities such as habitat enhancement, restoration, and the creation of new ecosystems, all with a long-term commitment to manage and maintain these gains for a minimum of 30 years.
Although this extended timeline now offers us a valuable window to accelerate our preparations for BNG, we encourage the government to continue its unwavering dedication to fulfilling these promises and commitments.
Together, let us unite in our shared responsibility to protect and rejuvenate our natural environment. With a renewed sense of purpose, we can ensure that the future of our biodiversity is secure.