Posted on Apr 16, 2024

Navigating BNG requirements for sustainable development

‘Minor’ developments now need to provide a biodiversity net gain (BNG)

As most of us are already aware, major developments need to provide a biodiversity net gain (BNG) of 10%. As of April this year, this now applies to ‘minor’ developments. This is a new approach to development and land management that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than before and puts nature at the centre of planning requirements.

This requirement is enforced by the  Environment Act 2021 and stipulates that before any works are started, the existing and proposed biodiversity values of a development site need to be measured. A clear plan of how the required increase in the BNG score will be achieved will also need to be approved before the works are started. 

One approach to increasing the BNG score, and usually the cheapest, is to create, enhance, or restore the biodiversity or habitats that already exist within the site’s ‘red-line’ boundaries. It has been reported that local planning authorities tend to prefer onsite BNG rather than any offsets.

It is advisable to consider measures that avoid damage to any of the on-site habitats and to reduce the ‘environmental footprint’ of the works as far as possible. Starting the habitat enhancement works before any development works begin can also increase the BNG score. 

Thomson Environmental Consultants (TEC) can offer their clients a one-stop solution for matters relating to BNG by integrating environmental consultancy with environmental contracting. 

Our award-winning Geospatial team can provide accurate and rapid BNG calculations from the baseline surveys and post-development plans, using data collected by our specially trained CIEEM accredited Ecologists (not sure how to phrase this).. We can also help write and develop Habitat Management and Monitoring Plans (HMMP) which will aim to ensure that the habitat improvements are maintained over the longer term. 

Our specialist Habitats team can assist with the details and design of on-site habitats and with the maintenance and enhancement works, all in accordance with the approved credit assessments. These works may include:

  • Construction and planting of ponds which are especially beneficial for newts and amphibians.
  • Tree and hedge planting to create nesting sites and to act as a food source.
  • Seeding – including the creation of wildflower meadows which are beneficial for insects and act as a source of nectar.
  • Various types of habitat enhancement – woodlands, hedges, ponds, wildflower meadows, heathlands. 

Get in touch with our specialists today or head over to our BNG service page for more information.

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