In preparation for the forthcoming Environment Bill and its anticipated requirements for Biodiversity Net Gain, Natural England has established a Biodiversity Credits Scheme Pilot project which aims to develop a biodiversity credit investment pipeline.
Biodiversity Net Gain is “an approach to development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before.”(1) and whilst this requirement is already part of the National Planning Policy Framework, a number/percentage for the gain is not specified. The latest update to the forthcoming Environment Bill (2) includes a requirement for all future schemes including the development of land to deliver a mandatory 10 % biodiversity net gain.
It is anticipated that it will not always be possible to deliver this quantum of gain on-site and there are therefore several options available to meeting this need elsewhere. Developers may consider opportunities within a wider landholding or opportunities for agreement with 3rd parties (e.g. other nearby landowners). There are brokers such as The Environment Bank that will offer a service. It is also likely that most local planning authorities will seek to provide purchasable credits, indeed several already have mechanisms in place to deliver this service (e.g. Warwickshire County Council, Oxfordshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council). This pilot scheme is intended to facilitate the Government’s offering to purchase biodiversity units (as credits) which will be invested in habitat creation.
The first stage of the Natural England Biodiversity Credits Scheme pilot project is a ‘call for projects’ in July and Natural England is asking interested parties to submit proposals for habitat provision projects. The project proposals will be assessed against a set of criteria and if successful, a selection of projects will be invited to be part of the Biodiversity Credits Scheme Pilot (from October 2020 to February 2021).
Whether a Land Manager, Site Promoter, Public Authority or Developer, for advice on what Biodiversity Net Gain means for you, please contact Gemma Melvill (firstname.lastname@example.org).