Environment Act 2021: What Does Measurable Biodiversity Net Gain Mean?

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Environment Act 2021: What Does Measurable Biodiversity Net Gain Mean?

After almost three years of discussion, the much-anticipated new Environment Act 2021 has become law.

Championed as the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on Earth, the Environment Act 2021 is expected to halt the decline of species by 2030, improve the quality of our air, protect the health of our rivers, improve the ways we deal with waste and combat overseas deforestation.

One of the ways the act sets out to do this is by setting a 10% requirement for measurable Biodiversity Gain on all developments.

Measurable Biodiversity Net Gain Explained

Measurable Biodiversity Net Gain is an approach to development that ensures nature preservation and improvements to biodiversity are kept front of mind in all planning, decision-making, and design.

Under the new Environment Act, biodiversity loss should be kept to a minimum in all developments and any loss that does incur will have to be restored, along with a 10% boost. This can be achieved by an on-site improvement, an improvement to the biodiversity of a specified piece of land away from the development, or by purchasing biodiversity credits (the details of this scheme have yet to be confirmed by the Secretary of State).

Once the measurable Biodiversity Net Gain are secured, they must be managed and maintained for at least 30 years. For transparency and accurate monitoring, each development site will be added to a publicly available biodiversity net gain site register with details about the owner of the site, the baseline biodiversity value of the area and the expected future biodiversity value.

By protecting existing habitats and compensating any negative impacts on biodiversity with natural habitat and ecological features over and above what is affected, this new approach will make sure that the biodiversity of all developments is left in a better state than before development began.

The new 10% biodiversity net gain requirement on all new developments means that those within the property and land development industries will have to adapt the way they draw up plans.

£4 million of funding has been allocated to Local Planning Authorities to prepare to review the new proposals and expand and upskill existing ecologist teams to cooperate better with developers.

When Will the Measurable Biodiversity Net Gain Requirements Become Mandatory?

Although some developers, planning authorities and practitioners have been voluntarily following their own approach to measurable Biodiversity Net Gain, the new 10% standard will become mandatory in November 2023, two years after the Environment Act was given Royal Assent.

Construction Project Biodiversity Enhancements with Greenlight

Our team at Greenlight is able to provide advice and on-site biodiversity enhancements for construction projects of all sizes, from barn conversions to major housing schemes.

To learn more about how we can support your development in line with the new measurable Biodiversity Net Gain requirements, please get in touch with our team for a free no-obligation chat.