Issue - meetings

Biodiversity – Supporting the recovery of nature in the Borough

Meeting: 15/02/2024 - Planning and Highways Committee (Item 69)

69 Biodiversity – Supporting the recovery of nature in the Borough pdf icon PDF 131 KB

To brief the Planning and Highways Committee on the introduction of biodiversity net gain (BNG).

To invite the Committee to note and comment on the Biodiversity Net Gain Planning Advisory Note (PAN), with approval of the PAN to be sought from the Executive Board.

Additional documents:


A report was submitted to inform the Committee on the introduction of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG).


Biodiversity is in alarming decline across the country and the Government has set out their commitments to addressing this biodiversity crisis through a 25-year Environment Plan, with an ambition “to leave our environment in a better state than we found it”. The interventions it plans to take to improve the environment have since been set out through legislation and guidance, including the statutory Environment Act (2021) and the Government’s Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP) (2023). The Environment Act (2021) introduced a series of mandatory strategies and interventions to begin to address the biodiversity emergency. This includes Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG).


Biodiversity Net Gain is a new, mandatory requirement for most new development to deliver a 10% net gain in biodiversity, and uses habitats as a proxy for biodiversity. Any habitats lost through new development must be replaced or compensated for, on a like for like basis, and then a further 10% uplift in biodiversity must be provided. Habitats must be provided at the same condition (quality), or higher, as the habitats that are to be lost.


BNG was due to be introduced in November 2024, but government delays now mean that national BNG will take effect from 12 February 2024. Most planning applications will be expected to deliver 10% BNG, although, under transitionary arrangements, the requirements only begin for minor applications on 2 April 2024. Some developments, for example householder schemes, small self- or custom-build schemes, or developments with de-minimis areas of habitat, are exempted from the BNG requirements.


Whilst BNG takes effect nationally from February 2024, Local Planning Authorities have, for some time, also been entitled to set their own local net gain requirements. In reflection of the ever-increasing importance of the environment, the Council have set out their own Department of Place, Growth and Development local requirements for BNG in the new Local Plan (2021-2037) through Policy CP6: Natural Environment. Policy CP6 requires most new developments in the borough to deliver a minimum of 10% BNG. The Council adopted the Local Plan on 25 January 2024, and BNG is now a requirement of all planning applications. However, once national BNG takes effect, this will take precedence over local BNG requirements (though both are required to deliver 10% BNG and evidence this in the same way).


It was noted that officer Helen Hatch, Senior Strategic Planner, had dedicated a lot of time and knowledge into BNG and the Committee thanked Helen for her hard work.


RESOLVED – That the report be noted.