Biodiversity Net Gain: Why This Little-Known Practice Is Now Vital to the Success of Future Projects

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Biodiversity defines the variety that exists within life on Earth. From the array of animal species to the complex habitats that make up the world we know today, biodiversity can be seen all around us. However, it’s no secret that property development eats into a lot of our green spaces and causes concern within environmentally focussed communities. Because of this, there has been growing debate around how we can centre property development to have a positive impact on nature. From these conversations has emerged the concept of biodiversity net gain, or BNG.

Although BNG became mandatory for property development in 2019, it’s still a concept that is frequently misunderstood by planners and developers, so in this article, we’ll be discussing what it is and the benefits that come with it, as well as how to plan and implement BNG into your next development.

What Is Biodiversity Net Gain?

First things first, what actually is biodiversity net gain? Simply put, biodiversity net gain defines the process of a property or land development having a positive environmental impact on the space it exists within. For this to work, property planners and developers must ensure that any action they take will leave the land they build on in a better state than it was before they arrived, and this must be done in a measurable way. For an overview, Natural England have produced a Biodiversity Net Gain brochure that provides a guide to understanding how this complex topic can support both developers and the environment.

Why Is Biodiversity Net Gain Important?

Although BNG can sometimes be a controversial topic among planners and developers, it’s helpful to understand exactly why biodiversity net gain is so important.

Firstly, BNG work minimises the risk to the natural world, by ensuring the safety of protected or endangered species, and keeping a variety of habitats at the forefront of any development processes.

Another tangible benefit to biodiversity net gain is the transformation that can be seen in the property being built around the UK. By providing people with diverse, green spaces that house a range of species and habitats, individuals will experience a higher quality of life and be more likely to consider the area when looking to buy a new property.

On top of this, BNG is a driving factor behind the mitigation of climate change – through enforced restoration projects that are to take place before land or property development commences, the area will be required to assist in the protection of nature and the reduction of the site’s carbon footprint. For example, by a majority of developers planting more trees and introducing dedicated green spaces, the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere will be reduced, leaving a tangible impact on the health of the planet.

The Benefits of Biodiversity Net Gain

It’s clear that BNG is important to both developers and consumers, but there are some specific benefits that should be the takeaway for anyone looking into why net gain is important:

  • BNG creates new, healthy habitats for a range of animal species, and connects these habitats to one another, with a focus on introducing and supporting different species.
  • Nature based solutions help to drive interest in the land or property that they are designed for, offering financial and business benefits to developers.
  • BNG projects offer solid opportunities for habitat management, which helps to draw in greater investment for landowners from both private and public sector organisations.

How to Implement Biodiversity Net Gain into Your Next Development

With a foundational understanding of the importance and benefits of biodiversity net gain, it’s time to implement the right BNG strategies into your next development, and you can do this by following some simple steps.

Plan Ahead: As part of your planning proposal, you should create a clear, well-written plan that outlines the research and preparation that you’ve done before pitching for the development. In this plan, try to outline the areas you’ve identified that could lead to the destruction of a habitat or a conflict of interest, and discuss how you will avoid these incidents. Having an awareness of the impact your development could have on the local community, but also a plan to counteract it, shows that your work will be the best solution for the people who live there.

Work Closely with the Local Authority: A key element to remember when planning your development is that the local authority will have specific policy requirements that they need to adhere to when granting permission for your development to go ahead. This will drive their decision making on the project, so it’s important that you’re working with them to find solutions and communicating well, to keep the local environment at the forefront of any proposed action.

Listen to Local Residents: Due to the growing awareness around climate change and the challenges faced by the planet, more and more people are turning to developers to understand how their work might impact their local environment. When planning your project, listen to the voices of those in the local area and address their concerns in a compassionate way, so that they can have a better understanding of how their local wildlife and habitats will be protected.

Hire a Professional Service: Finally, but most importantly, it’s crucial that when you are planning your next development you hire a professional service to provide you with a biodiversity net gain plan. Going for a reliable net gain plan from Arbtech is a great idea – Arbtech provide a range of net gain services, and ensure that your plan will adhere to the current UK legislation requirements. Their plans include the right metrics to present to the authorities, so you can prove that your project will enhance and improve the local environment.

Although biodiversity net gain can be a complex concept to understand, once you realise the benefits that it can bring to your project, you can focus your work on what is best for the natural world around you. BNG plans not only prove to the local government that your proposal is a worthwhile addition to the community, but it also speaks to local residents in a way that addresses their concerns and ensures that the space you create will be beneficial for generations.