12 min read | July 4, 2024

What Biodiversity Net Gain Means for Developers

Developers must consider a site’s habitat and ecology when detailing a new development for approval. Let's discuss what developers need to know about BNG. 
The Concept of Biodiversity Net Gain

Navigating Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) from a developer's perspective can be daunting as the new mandate is specific, while also being broad and flexible in how the requirements may be achieved. 

Now, developers must consider a site’s habitat and ecology when detailing a new development for approval. We’ll use this blog to discuss what developers need to know about BNG and what they need to consider when preparing their applications.

Developer’s Roadmap to BNG Planning approval

Under Biodiversity Net Gain mandates, all new developments in England are required to provide a 10% uplift in biodiversity, sustained over at least 30 years. This is the minimum BNG threshold that every developer across the country must now implement into their development’s plan. This mandate applies to all habitats within the development's boundary, whether impacted or not, with particular rules for irreplaceable habitats.

Very few exemptions are allowed, emphasising that most developments must comply with these requirements. However, you can check if your development is exempt with our BNG exemption checker.

What Developers Need to Know about BNG On-Site and Off-Site

Achieving the mandatory biodiversity can be accomplished through on-site gains, off-site gains, or purchasing statutory biodiversity credits. Let’s brief what each of those are:

On-site Gains

Developers should prioritise enhancing biodiversity directly on the development site. This approach involves enhancing and creating habitats within the red line (e.g. by integrating features like green roofs, native planting, and wildlife corridors). On-site gains ensure that biodiversity benefits are immediate and local, fostering ecological resilience within the development area.

Off-site Gains 

When on-site enhancements aren't feasible, developers can turn to off-site solutions. This involves working with landowners to enhance biodiversity in nearby areas. All off-site gains must be recorded in the public biodiversity gain sites register, requiring landowner permission. This option allows developers to contribute to regional biodiversity goals while still meeting regulatory requirements.

Statutory Biodiversity Credits

As a last resort, developers can purchase statutory biodiversity credits. These credits fund conservation efforts elsewhere and serve as a compensatory measure when on-site or off-site options are not viable. While this ensures compliance, it is generally considered the least preferable option, as it does not directly enhance the development area’s biodiversity.

Each option carries responsibilities, particularly regarding the maintenance of biodiversity gains for at least 30 years. Developers should plan early, consult with ecologists, and engage with local planning authorities (LPAs) to determine the best approach for their projects. Joe’s Blooms Biodiversity Net Gain Tool helps small-sites with the end-to-end understanding and compliance.

Calculating Biodiversity Value

Before starting development, you’ll need to assess the existing biodiversity value of the site. This involves conducting surveys to identify habitats (which our tool can help you do). This information is then used to assign a baseline biodiversity score to the site. 

The UK has developed a Statutory Biodiversity Metric tool to standardise the calculations and their values across the country. This helps quantify biodiversity impacts and gains and provides a framework for assessing the ecological value of a site to best determine the effectiveness of proposed mitigation measures.

Using the statutory biodiversity metric, developers calculate how many biodiversity units their development needs to achieve the mandated 10% net gain. The metric considers factors such as the size of the development area, the type of habitats affected, and the quality of proposed enhancements.

Planning Permission and Biodiversity Gain Plans  

Before submitting the BNG required documentation, new developments will still need the standard planning permission approval first. Once the LPA grants the planning permission, the next step will be to create a biodiversity gain plan that details exactly how the development  will achieve BNG. Here, developers will be asked to provide evidence for their  BNG decisions.

The LPA then has up to eight weeks to review the BGP. Ensuring all information is complete and aligns with local and national biodiversity policies is critical to avoid delays. The BGP must be approved before development can commence. Upon approval, the BGP becomes a binding component of the planning conditions. Developers must implement the outlined biodiversity measures and adhere to all management and monitoring obligations.

Joe’s Blooms was born out of the recognition of the complexity of understanding and planning for BNG. As such, we provide the tools and resources to help small-sites in particular to compliantly and affordably meet these new mandates. Our Biodiversity Net Gain Tool provides essential support for developers navigating these requirements, offering a comprehensive approach to understanding, calculating, and implementing biodiversity enhancements. 

The tool facilitates accurate biodiversity metric calculations, guides in compliance with local policies, and aids in preparing robust Biodiversity Gain Plans. With Joe's Blooms, developers can streamline their path to achieving BNG targets, ensuring sustainable development practices that enhance ecological resilience.

For a deeper dive into what BNG is and what it involves, check out our Biodiversity Net Gain Guide

Oliver Lewis

Oliver Lewis

Founder of Joe’s Blooms
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Oliver Lewis is the founder of Joe’s Blooms, providing end-to-end digital solutions to help you create best-in-class Biodiversity Gain Plans. Expert in this field, he shares his knowledge on the Environment Bill.

Access our BNG tools

Comply with BNG today

The Biodiversity Net Gain Tool is a new tool that offers small sites end-to end compliance with the new BNG law.

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Calculate the value of your Biodiversity Units

Joe's Blooms Explore is a new digital tool that allows you to easily work out the Biodiversity Unit value of any piece of land.

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Take care of your BNG

Our easy-to-use tool ensures full biodiversity net gain compliance and control for Local Planning Authorities.

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Find out if you are exempt from BNG

The easy-to-use Exemption Checker allows you to find out if BNG applies to your development and get all the information you need!

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