WHAT IS BIODIVERSITY NET GAIN?
Biodiversity net gain (BNG) is an approach to development, and/or land management, that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was beforehand. Where a development has an impact on biodiversity it encourages developers to provide an increase in appropriate natural habitat and ecological features over and above that being affected in such a way it is hoped that the current loss of biodiversity through development will be halted and ecological networks can be restored.
Defra has recently consulted on making biodiversity net gain a mandatory element of the English planning system however many developers are already designing net gain into their development projects and national planning policy frameworks already encourage the net gain approach. Quite simply, a policy of no net loss has not worked and we need to do something different if we are to make any progress towards reaching our biodiversity targets.
Biodiversity net gain still relies on the application of the mitigation hierarchy to avoid, mitigate or compensate for biodiversity losses. It is additional to these approaches, not instead of them. Put simply, it involves the use of a metric as a proxy for recognising the negative impacts on habitats arising from a development and calculating how much new or restored habitat, and of what types is required to deliver sufficient net gain.