Government biodiversity net gain consultation Photo by Leo Sammarco on Unsplash

These proposals would place the environment at the heart of new development

The government is consulting on mandating biodiversity net gain in development to ensure habitats are protected and enhanced for the future.

Developers could be required to deliver a ‘biodiversity net gain’ when building new housing or commercial development. Meaning habitats for wildlife must be enhanced and left in a measurably better state than they were pre-development.

The proposed new rules require developers to assess the type of habitat and its condition before submitting plans.

The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP Image:Open Government Licence v3.0

Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, said:

“Our commitment to protecting and enhancing our natural world can go hand in hand with our ambition to build more high quality homes.

“Mandating biodiversity net gain puts the environment at the heart of planning and development. This will not only create better places for people to live and work, but ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations.”

While some developers have already been following a biodiversity net gain approach voluntarily, the proposed standardised, mandatory approach would give them clarity and certainty on how to improve the environment through development.

It would also consider whether any sites – such as small and brownfield sites – should be exempt from the rules.

In addition to upholding planning protections for sensitive sites such as ancient woodland and sites of special scientific interest, the consultation builds on the experiences of local authorities and developers who have already adopted net gain approaches.

biodiversity consultation Photo by Simon Wilkes on Unsplash

Andrew Sells, chairman of Natural England, which has given extensive advice to Government on Net Gain, said:

“I am delighted that Natural England’s scientific expertise has helped to shape the concept of Net Gain and the principles that will gauge its success. We can also play an important role in helping developers and local authorities achieve Net Gain on the ground – securing a better environment for future generations.”

The consultation opens on 2 December and will run until 10 February.