By Andrew Morgan & Lauren HIcks


Published 13 September 2023


November 2023 is fast approaching and Developers will soon be required to offset the environmental impact of their developments by delivering at least 10% Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG).

BNG can be achieved on-site, off-site or through a combination of on-site and off-site measures. Certain schemes may struggle to achieve the required BNG onsite and this is where initiatives such as the Environmental Farmers Group (EFG) represent the opportunities to unlock BNG constrained sites.   

The EFG has been set up by a group of farmers in Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset with a view to being the "go-to" platform for developers and planners. The group currently comprises over 220 farms covering 110,000ha and is growing in other parts of the country including North Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Devon and Yorkshire.

The EFG has successfully completed phosphate offset agreements and has a pipeline of requests for nutrient and BNG offsets at various stages of completion. 

The EFG have been endorsed by central government and engages with Natural England, DEFRA and the Environmental Agency regularly. Furthermore, the EFG have already completed biodiversity baseline audits using Natural England's Biodiversity Metric.

Interestingly the EFG are in the process of completing a catchment-wide feasibility of all suitable locations for nutrient offset solutions from its members. This process has enabled the identification of a wide range of deliverable environmental projects on the farms with a calculated number of biodiversity units or nutrient credits, giving Developers ready-to-go options suitable for a variety of offset requirements.

Temporary nutrient reduction solutions are also being investigated using cover cropping or fallow-land management on farmland to unlock house building in the short term. This type of scheme generates bridging credits for Developers whilst they await longer term off set schemes such as wetlands to be constructed.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss how these and other off-site solutions could be used to support your development project.