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How Biodiversity Net Gain needs to be considered when planning a project
28 February 2024

In England, Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) has become mandatory from 12th February 2024. Development must now achieve a 10% BNG measured against the pre-development biodiversity value of the on-site habitat.

This 10% increase can be achieved through on-site or off-site biodiversity gains or statutory biodiversity credits. Once planning permission has been granted, the biodiversity gain condition will be imposed. A Biodiversity Gain Plan must be submitted and approved by the Local Planning Authority (LPA) before the commencement of the development.

What will be exempted from BNG requirements?

  • Planning applications made before 12th February 2024.
  • Section 73 permissions where the original permission was either granted or made before 12th February 2024.
  • Retrospective planning permission made under Section 73A.
  • Small developments (exempt until 2nd April 2024).
  • Development that does not impact a priority habitat and impacts less than 25 m² of habitat or 5m of linear habitats such as hedgerows.
  • Householder development, e.g. home extensions, conservatories or loft conversions.
  • Self-build and custom-build applications which consist of no more than 9 dwellings on a site with an area not larger than 0.5 hectares.
  • Development of a biodiversity gain site.
  • Development related to high speed rail transport network.
  • Urgent crown developments.
  • Development granted planning permission by a development order including Permitted Development Rights.

What do you need to prepare in respect of BNG in advance of a planning application?

  1. Check whether it is exempted.
  2. Consider BNG in the site selection and design.
  3. Carry out a pre-development biodiversity calculation of the existing habitat and explore possible ways, i.e. on-site, off-site or statutory biodiversity credits, to achieve BNG.
  4. Submit the application with the information of pre-development biodiversity value, completed metric calculation, a description of any irreplaceable habitat and plan(s) showing existing on-site habitat, etc. The amount of information for planning applications will vary depending on the type and scale of development, type of planning application, the on-site habitat impacted and the extent of any significant on-site enhancements.
  5. Once planning permission is granted, submit a Biodiversity Gain Plan for approval  together with the information of on-site habitat, registered off-site biodiversity gain or any biodiversity credits purchased prior to the commencement of the development.
  6. For significant on-site habitat enhancements, it must be secured by either a planning condition, Section 106 agreement or conservation covenant for at least 30 years after the completion of the development.
  7. To buy or sell off-site gain, it must enter a legal agreement for at least 30 years from the date of completing the habitat enhancement.
  8. It will be in breach of planning conditions, planning obligations or legal agreement if the BNG requirements cannot be met. The LPA could take enforcement action.  

If you would like more information on the above or would like to find out how our Planning team can help you navigate the additional BNG requirements associated with a planning application, please contact Abel Bunu, Principal Planner on 01234 362891 or David Sawford, Partner & Chartered Building Surveyor on 01234 362909.

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