Biodiversity net gain consultation opened

All new houses and commercial developments must improve habitats and wildlife under ‘biodiversity net gain’ proposals unveiled by the UK government today.

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Developers will have to show how biodiversity will be left in a “measurably better state” than before building, and could be forced to plant trees and create green corridors. 

On occasions when it is not possible to make improvements, the government plans to charge developers a levy to pay for habitat creation or enhancement elsewhere.

Sustainability body IEMA played a key role in developing the proposals, which form part of the government’s 25-year plan to improve the environment within a generation.

After opening a consultation on the new rules, environment secretary, Michael Gove, said: “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 voluntarily taken a biodiversity net gain approach, the government said making this mandatory would give clarity and certainty to many.

It is now seeking views on whether small and brownfield sites should be exempt, and will continue working with stakeholders to determine how profitable development can improve the environment.

Today’s consultation builds on the experiences of local authorities and developers that have already adopted net gain approaches, including the Berkley Group and Warwickshire County Council.

It follows the launch of the revised National Planning Policy Framework in July, which outlined stronger protections that ensure wildlife thrives when new homes are built.

Andrew Sells, Chairman of Natural England, which helped develop the net gain proposals, said: “Net gain is an ambitious idea that has the potential to bring significant benefits for our declining wildlife and the environment as a whole. 

“If net gain succeeds for nature then it will also be succeeding for people, because it means that they are living and working with a thriving natural environment all around them.” 

The consultation will run until 10 February 2019.

 

Image credit | iStock
Author: 

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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