In 2011 the government published the Natural Environment White Paper, which aims to set out a clear framework for economic growth whilst protecting the natural environment. In response to this, a series of pilot Biodiversity Offsetting schemes were established.
The pilot areas for the scheme are Doncaster, Devon, Essex, Greater Norwich, Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire (including Coventry and Solihull).
What we do
Middlemarch have experience of undertaking Offsetting projects in a number of the pilot areas, and have a good understanding of the process. Utilising information about the site, including data on the existing habitats present, the proposed development layout and landscaping, we will calculate losses and gains of biodiversity units on site. Once the calculations are completed, we will provide the client with suggestions as to how the site layout and landscaping proposals can be amended to minimise impacts on biodiversity.
Where residual impacts remain, Middlemarch will undertake discussions with the client, the local planning authority and other relevant stakeholders to determine an appropriate site for offsetting.
At this stage, Biodiversity Offsetting is only being used within the six Pilot study areas (Devon; Doncaster; Essex; Greater Norwich; Nottinghamshire; and, Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull) and for targeted complementary projects.
What is Biodiversity Offsetting?
Biodiversity Offsetting is the principle of compensating for biodiversity losses resulting from development by implementing conservation activities that deliver measurable biodiversity benefits at another site. The preference in the planning system is that ecological impacts resulting from development activity are avoided where possible, and mitigated for when they are unavoidable. Compensation is only turned to when unavoidable residual impacts remain.
The requirement for measurable outcomes differentiates Biodiversity Offsetting from other forms of ecological compensation, with losses and gains measured using the same criteria for all habitats. The measurement uses ‘biodiversity units’, which are calculated based on the distinctiveness and condition of the habitats present and the size and position of the development impacts. The assessment of biodiversity units that will be lost and gained as the result of a development activity is undertaken following DEFRA guidance. Where calculations indicate that a development will result in a biodiversity loss, the developer can chose to provide compensation through offsetting.
In addition to carrying out Biodiversity Offsetting calculations, Middlemarch Environmental has extensive experience of undertaking baseline surveys to assess ecological value and providing Creative Ecological Solutions to maximise biodiversity gains. Additional services linked to Biodiversity Offsetting include: