I've been told I need to comply with BNG as a planning condition, but I don't know what to do. How do I begin?

To comply with BNG, you need to use the Biodiversity Metric to assess the baseline habitat and the impact of your development. Then, create a Biodiversity Gain Plan to enhance biodiversity value by at least 10%, using on-site or off-site solutions. The government website offers a downloadable Biodiversity Metric and video guides for assistance. Alternatively, Joe's Blooms’ Biodiversity Net Gain Tool provides a comprehensive digital solution for BNG compliance, guiding you from the initial stages to producing all necessary documentation you need to comply with the new law. 

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What is Biodiversity Net Gain?

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is a policy in England requiring development projects from April 2024 to achieve, at least, a 10% increase in biodiversity units on-site. This is measured using the Statutory Biodiversity Metric, which assesses the current and potential biodiversity impact of development or restoration activities. The policy ensures compliance with the Environment Act 2021, aiming to balance development with nature conservation.

With the Joe’s Blooms Biodiversity Net Gain Tool, you can easily comply with the whole BNG process with our easy-to-use, end-to-end solution.

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Am I qualified to undertake a Biodiversity Net Gain Assessment?

If you are developing a small site, you may well be! The Joe's Blooms BNG Tool can help you determine if you are qualified - or who the right person in your team might be. To conduct a Biodiversity Net Gain Assessment, you need to be a competent person - someone with relevant qualifications, training, or experience in ecological fields. For small sites (9 units or less, or 0.5 hectares or less), you can undertake the assessment using the appropriate metric. For larger sites or developing sites for off-site units, a qualified ecologist is required.

The Joe's Blooms Biodiversity Net Gain Tool can assist in guiding you through the BNG process and help identify the appropriately qualified individual for your project.

What is a Biodiversity Unit?

Biodiversity Units (BUs) are the measure of the amount of biodiversity on a site.  They are calculated by using the Statutory Biodiversity Metric. They are the 'currency' of the metric. Developers will need to enure that their planning application specifies how, by completion of the project, they will have achieved an increase of 10% in the number of BUs on their site.

There are several types of BNG and they are not universally interchangeable. Different habitats have unique types of units with specific trading rules. It's crucial to ensure the correct type of units are created or acquired for on-site or off-site solutions to fully comply with the biodiversity metric. The Joe's Blooms tool aids in identifying the required unit types and guides you through the process to ensure compliance with all relevant rules and requirements.

The further the off-site location is from your site, the less they are worth; in other words, buying off-site BUs locally is more cost effective.

You can easily work out the number of Biodiversity Units on your land with the Joe’s Blooms Explore Tool. If you want to create new Biodiversity Units, the Biodiversity Net Gain Tool will guide you through the whole process and produce all the documentation you need (coming soon for off-site biodiversity gain sites).  

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What is a Biodiversity Credit?

If you can't create on-site Biodiversity Units or source them off-site, you can purchase Biodiversity Credits from the Government. The cost of these credits is usually high, as per government guidelines. Also, retaining proof of receipt for your biodiversity documentation is essential. 

The Joe's Blooms Biodiversity Net Gain Tool can assist in determining if you need to purchase Credits and guide you through the process of buying the correct type from the Government.

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What is the mitigation hierarchy?

The mitigation hierarchy is a central concept in biodiversity net gain policy, emphasising the importance of preventing environmental harm. If prevention is unachievable, the next step is to reduce harm by enhancing or creating habitats on-site. As a final option, if onsite measures are inadequate, offsite solutions are considered, always aiming to address biodiversity loss as near to the original site as possible.

Because of this rule, the value of off-site Biodiversity Units goes down the further away the off-site is from your site. In other words, the further away the off-site is, the more it will cost to secure the required BUs

The Joe’s Blooms Biodiversity Net Gain Tool ensures that you fully comply with the mitigation hierarchy by embedding its process into every stage of the user journey.

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How long do I have to maintain any habitats I promise to create onsite?

You will need to ensure that your habitats are maintained for at least 30 years. 

The Joe’s Blooms Biodiversity Net Gain Tool ensures that you fully comply with this process, helping guide you through the creation of appropriate Habitat Management and Monitoring Plans.                                                                                                                                

Can I use satellite imagery and AI to solve my BNG problems? 

While satellite imagery and AI can certainly help you with Biodiversity Net Gain assessments, they are not a substitute for onsite surveys. The new BNG policy is very clear; they want detailed site assessments by a ‘competent person’ or - in certain cases - a qualified ecologist. You will also need to provide condition assessments (which determine the condition of the baseline) to justify qualitative judgements made. With Joe’s Blooms, our tools help guide you through the site survey, with satellite technology complimenting the user journey to make sure you fully comply with the letter and spirit of the new BNG law.

Are there local requirements as well as national requirements?

It depends on the Local Planning Authority (LPA). Some LPAs have additional BNG requirements in their local plan or in other policies. It is always a good idea to look at whether the LPA has extra steps that they would like you to take.

Do I need to use an ecologist if I use digital tools?

It’s very important that baseline assessments are done by the right person. You should not use automated solutions but base information on site surveys. For large sites or offsites, that should be a qualified ecologist. If it’s a small site, then it should be done by a ‘competent person’. 

The Joe’s Blooms Biodiversity Net Gain Tool ensures that you find the right person to undertake the baseline assessment and can help you connect with people who have undertaken training in the new habitat system if you need extra help for many small sites, the competent person may be the project manager or architect.

Can I boost my BNG score by including bee bricks or other infrastructure changes?

No. You can only boost your BNG score by enhancing or creating habitats as set out in the Statutory Biodiversity Metric. Depending on the habitat, types of species may be an important indicator for the condition of a habitat. 

The Joe’s Blooms Biodiversity Net Gain Tool ensures that you fully comply with this process.

Will BNG help reduce Climate Change?

Nature restoration is a vital part of the fight against climate change. The Environment Act 2021 - which introduced Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) - envisions BNG playing a key role in helping to restore nature and to drive forward a reduction in CO2. You can read more in our blogs

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Can I just buy off-site Biodiversity Units to offset my site?

Off-site Biodiversity Units (BUs) should be purchased if there is no viable on-site solution. Under the mitigation hierarchy, you should always seek to ensure that solutions are as close as possible to your development. Remember that the value of the Biodiversity Units goes down the further away the off-site is from your site. In other words, the further away the off-site is, the more it will cost to secure the required BUs.

The Joe’s Blooms Biodiversity Net Gain Tool ensures that you fully comply with this process, helping guide you through the on-site solutions first before helping you assess appropriate off-site options.

What are the “Trading Rules”?

The “Trading Rules” are at the heart of the entire BNG metric. In a nutshell, they are a set of rules that require you to make sure that the type of biodiversity that is harmed by a development is offset by habitat restoration that is as good as what was there before, or better (this is called the “like-for-like principle” or the “like-for-better” principle). There are some habitats that are so important that they are classed as “irreplaceable” and have very special rules you have to follow when completing your BNG process. 

The Joe’s Blooms Biodiversity Net Gain Tool ensures that you fully comply with the trading rules, helping guide you through the different requirements.

What is a Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS) and how does it affect BNG?

Local Nature Recovery Strategies are intended to be comprehensive documents created by designated authorities that will map out priority areas for specific nature recovery and restoration. They are intended to cover the whole of England  Each will include a local habitat map and written statement on biodiversity priorities. It will include information on priority species, habitats that need protection or restoration, and any other local biodiversity issues that need to be addressed.  In doing so, the Local Nature Recovery Strategy provides details on the types of habitats that need protection or restoration, affecting BNG applications in the nearby area. 

What does “Strategic Significance” mean?

LPAs can designate certain habitats as being of particular importance in a given area (for example, because of alignment with the Local Nature Restoration Stategy (LNRS)). If this is the case, then this needs to be entered into the Biodiversity Metric and it will have an effect on the final Biodiversity Unit score.

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