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One step closer to mandatory biodiversity net gain

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By Andrew Morgan & Joe Whimpenny


Published 28 February 2023


Government guidance released on the 21 February confirms that the requirement for all developments to deliver a minimum of 10% Biodiversity Net Gain from November will be going ahead - however there will initially be an exemption for small sites.

Small sites are defined as those delivering less than 10 homes within 1 hectare of land (0.5 if unit numbers are unknown). This exemption will also apply to commercial/industrial developments of less than 1000sqm.

These sites will be given an additional 5 months to meet the requirements to “lessen the initial burden” on planning authorities.

This period is less than the 12 months suggested in the initial consultation however there is speculation that the deadline for small sites could be pushed back further, depending on how local authorities cope with the introduction of mandatory BNG for larger sites.

The requirements, once enacted, will require a measurable 10% gain to be delivered on-site wherever possible. Where this is not possible the gains may be delivered off-site with a focus on delivering as close to the development site as possible. All instances of off-site delivery will be added to a new national public register kept by Natural England. It is currently estimated that this registration will cost developers between £100 - £1,000 depending on the size of the development.

The Government has also confirmed that a credit system will be allowed to emerge with developers able to both buy and sell. The government’s preference is for the system to develop organically but initially a statutory system will be set up to give time for a private market to develop. Indicative prices for each statutory credit will be published in May.