23rd January 2024
The government has finally announced the rollout date for Biodiversity Net Gain with requirements going live on 12 February.
The rollout of the measures, designed to ensure the environment of an area is left in a measurably better state post-development, has been confirmed following a series of pushbacks by Defra. Here’s what you need to know:
What is Biodiversity Net Gain?
Biodiversity net gain (BNG) is the net increase in biodiversity (i.e. the different organisms – plants, animals, insects and microorganisms that live in the natural world) after a development has taken place. This means that for any new developments, developers must replace any biodiversity lost as a result of the development works and add 10% in order to provide the net gain.
This will have important ramifications for developers as the required net gain will need to be delivered by the time the development has been completed and the associated habitat creation or enhancement will then need to be maintained for 30 years.
As a result, at the end of the development project the overall environment should be in a better state than before the development began.
What are the important dates?
From 12 February 2024, new applications for planning permission on major development that do not fall into the list of confirmed exemptions will have to deliver net gains for biodiversity.
Meanwhile, minor development sites (residential sites less than 10 dwellings on sites less than one hectare or non-residential sites where the floor space to be created is under 1,000 square metres or where the site is less than one hectare) will be 2 April 2024. BNG then extends to cover Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) in late 2025.
Is my application subject to BNG regulations?
Deemed permissions under section 90 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 or permission granted by a local development order, will not be subject to mandatory BNG yet.
The requirements will not apply to section 73 applications (for amendments to planning conditions) where:
Rebecca Stanton, Associate in the Thrings Planning and Environment team, said: “This long-awaited update comes in some months after first expected, and finally offers certainty for developers whose projects will fall within the scope of the regulations.
“Developers and landowners should be mindful of BNG’s minimum time commitments and that the obligations will be secured by Section 106 planning agreement obligations and conservation covenants throughout the 30-year period. Our planning team has already started to incorporate these provisions into agreements both for on-site and off-site BNG.
“We encourage developers to take legal advice early on in the process on the implications for their sites.”
Thrings’ Planning and Environment lawyers have extensive experience in navigating complex local and national planning policy legislation and has successfully supported commercial and residential applications through the approval and appeal processes. To find out more and for advice on your development proposals, including how to address enforcement notices, please do get in touch.