Biodiversity Net Gain
The concept of Biodiversity Net Gain was incorporated into the 2018 update of the National Planning Policy Framework. It was subsequently mandated in the Chancellor of Exchequer’s 2019 Spring Statement. Some local planning authorities have already adopted internal policies requiring developers to deliver a net gain in biodiversity as a prerequisite to achieving planning permission, and other authorities are now likely to follow suit.
In simple terms, Biodiversity Net Gain requires developers to deliver a project whilst also enhancing the ecological value of the site. This requires landscape design focused on providing habitat types of greater value than standard amenity-focused landscaping, often delivered as multi-functional areas that provide other services including drainage, public open space and visual screening. Our team of biodiversity specialists have a proven track record of working closely with design teams to develop high-quality biodiversity solutions that deliver a variety of Ecosystems Services.
How is Net Gain Measured?
Biodiversity Net Gain is generally calculated using a system of metrics originally devised by DEFRA and subsequently refined by bodies such as Warwickshire County Council and the Environment Bank. These metrics are used to assess the baseline ‘biodiversity unit’ value of a site, and then to calculate the predicted unit value of the developed site based on the proposed layout. Warwickshire County Council were one of the first counties to trial the biodiversity metric system; therefore being based in Warwickshire, Middlemarch’s team have long-standing experience of the use of this approach.
Delivering biodiversity net gain is challenging, and often is not possible to achieve on site whilst still delivering a viable development. In these instances, Biodiversity Offsetting is often used to deliver biodiversity gains at an off-site location. This approach can often successfully deliver greater gains for biodiversity than could traditionally be provided within a constrained development site.
At Middlemarch we have experience of helping our clients to identify off-site mitigation solutions and, as a result of our unique relationship with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, we can design offsetting solutions, including long-term management, on land that would generally be inaccessible to developers.