Biodiversity Net Gain framework updated

New draft legislation published with rules and guidance setting out the Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) conditions imposed on planning.

Aerial shot of houses in a town
Photo by Phil Kiel on Unsplash

Originally promised a year in advance, developers, landowners (habitat bank operators) and local planning authorities have much detail to work through with just short time before the regime goes into effect.

The BNG regime comes into effect from the 1st of January 2024 for major developments under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA), and from April 2024 for ‘small’ classed developments. BNG provisions require that developers must deliver a minimum 10% BNG in their developments.

Developers must provide BNG planning conditions for approval by their local planning authority (LPA). Once planning permission is granted, a biodiversity gain plan is to be submitted to the LPA for approval. The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs have now published a BNG template.

To deliver the BNG, either habitat enhanced or created is required to be secured, maintained, and monitored for a 30 years. A habitat management and monitoring plan template has also been published by Natural England.

Under the regime, to achieve BNG developers can either do so on-site or off-site by purchasing biodiversity credits from landowners. Biodiversity gains and losses on developments are measured in ‘biodiversity units’, depending on the type, extent and condition of the habitats.

Six BNG regulations have been published:

The following will be laid before Parliament (30th of November):

  • The Biodiversity Gain (Town and Country Planning) (Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2023
  • The Biodiversity Gain Site Register (Financial Penalties and Fees) Regulations 2023