DEFRA has recently consulted on the potential for mandatory requirements for developments and planning permission to ensure there is a net gain in biodiversity. The consultation focussed on whether biodiversity should be a necessary requirement, how this could be implemented, and how the biodiversity gains are monitored and measured. The consultation also considered whether a standardised approach should be implemented so that it is simpler and clearer for developers.
The biodiversity net gain principle aspires to apply a biodiversity net gain approach to national issues like house building, to ensure that the homes we need can also contribute to the 25 Year Environment Plan.
The consultation sets out that biodiversity should be used positively to bring together all stakeholders to work collaboratively and provide profitable development, which also provides biodiversity enhancements with the necessary growth, jobs and amenities. As planners, this approach is greatly welcomed. So many different types of developments can improve biodiversity, from a small-scale barn conversion to a larger scale new farm hub. For biodiversity benefits to be quantified and necessitate net gain, this could potentially provide a way to further facilitate development. It also appears that should a site not be feasible for net gain, there may be a way to provide off-site biodiversity improvements through tariffs levied nationally and applied locally. This creates a scenario where potentially biodiversity enhancements to facilitate development could be less expensive, as any development could be argued to have net gain in some form.
Bloomfields will be closely monitoring the results of this consultation to understand and respond to any forthcoming changes.