Biodiversity Net Gain is an approach to development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before. Where a development has an impact on biodiversity it encourages developers to provide an increase in appropriate natural habitat and ecological features over and above that being affected. It is hoped that the current loss of biodiversity through development will be halted and ecological networks can be restored.
The Environment Bill will make it mandatory for housing and development, subject to some narrow exemptions, to achieve at least a 10% net gain in value for biodiversity – a requirement that habitats for wildlife must be left in a measurably better state than before the development. Developers must submit a ‘biodiversity gain plan’ alongside usual planning application documents. The local authority must assess whether the 10% net gain requirement is met in order to approve the biodiversity gain plan. If net gain is not achievable on-site, the biodiversity net gain plan will need to include off-site habitat enhancements, in line with the mitigation hierarchy; the local authority must be satisfied that this is secured through a planning obligation or conservation covenant.