Launch date Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)

The government published the secondary legislation, which states that BNG will become mandatory from the 12th of February 2024.

Village in the countryside
credit:Petra Hoyer Millar

From this date, BNG will be mandatory for new planning applications for major development made under the Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA) 1990.

  • Major developments are defined as residential developments with 10 or more dwellings, or where the site area is greater than 0.5 hectares.

Small development sites will have an extended transition period, applying from 2nd April 2024. Small site development are defined as:

  • Residential developments where the number of dwellings is between 1 and 9, or if unknown the site area is less than 0.5 hectares
  • Commercial development where floor space created is less than 1,000 square metres or the total site area is less than 1 hectare

BNG has been introduced as a means to creating and improving natural habitats. BNG rules will required that a development has a 10% positive impact (‘net gain’) on biodiversity, compared to what was there before the development. Hence, to restore any biodiversity lost during building and deliver a 10% (minimum) boost to the area’s biodiversity. That can be achieved by creating or enhancing biodiversity in association with a development, either onsite, offsite or a combination thereof.

The government confirms that BNG will only apply where the planning application was made on, or after the 12th February. They have also stated that minor changes have also been made to the legislation, the details of which, will be made available in the weeks leading up to the BNG launch date.

“This is a significant milestone in the delivery of our Environmental Improvement Plan, ensuring new development contributes to the recovery of nature and will be fundamental in helping the country meet our target to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030, while helping to create more beautiful communities and deliver new homes”, state DEFRA.