B-day is finally here!  After several delays to ensure everybody was ready, the 12th of February 2024 marked the day when all major developments are legally required to deliver a 10% Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), which is enshrined in the Environment Act 2021.  BNG has changed the landscape in measuring the biodiversity value of a site’s baseline and post development by using a metric, quantifying the process in a standardised manner.  When it is not possible to achieve a 10% BNG on site, options are available such as securing land off-site and enhancing the existing habitats or using a process where credits can be purchased either from a broker or the Government itself.  

The concept of BNG has been around for some time now as it is a useful tool to demonstrate ‘measurable net gains for biodiversity’ as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF, para 185) and even longer in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull who were part of the pilot biodiversity offsetting which started in 2012.  

The BNG metric produced by Defra has gone through several iterations as the process has been refined, from the 2.0 version to 4.0 which was finally superseded by the Statutory Metric published in November 2023. 

The most noticeable change in the most recent revision is to assess each tree in hedgerows or line of trees as an individual feature providing a more accurate baseline. 

Other notable changes over the years were the removal of the use of habitat ‘succession’ and the ‘connectivity multiplier’ as a method of obtaining credits due to their complexities and openness to interpretation. 

Furthermore, a greater emphasis on creating habitats in advance has been incentivised by offering greater gains.  

The key theme running through the BNG process is to assess the baseline biodiversity value of a site as early as possible, preferably at the feasibility stage to influence the proposed layout as well as liaising with the whole project team and external stakeholders to maximise gain. 

Whilst there are many nuances to the process and few projects which have reached the point at which post-development monitoring is taking place, BNG has been influencing masterplan layouts for a number of years, resulting in greater consideration of native habitats and the benefits both to the end users and wildlife in a holistic manner.  

The Landmark Practice has a wealth of experience of delivering BNG services for a variety of sectors including renewables, residential and commercial developments with an award-winning team of ecologists and landscape architects. 

Sam Rogers – Principal Ecologist

If you have any BNG queries, or projects on the horizon get in touch with our friendly team on 0117 923 0455 or enquiries@thelandmarkpractice.com.