We are seeking NHF members’ views on the proposals in the consultation to inform our sector response to it. We’re seeking input for this by Friday 25 March.
What is Biodiversity Net Gain?
Biodiversity Net Gain is a soon to be mandated requirement for developers in England. It will apply to developers seeking to gain planning permission for development and will necessitates that habitats for wildlife are left in a measurably better state than they were in prior to development.
Why is the government consulting?
The intended outcome of these new rules is to protect biodiversity and reduce the impact of necessary development on the wider environment. The government’s stated aims are to secure positive outcomes for biodiversity, to improve the biodiversity gain process for developers and to create better places for communities.
How will this affect housing associations?
The Biodiversity Net Gain requirement is likely to affect members that develop new homes at any scale, whether in urban and suburban settings or in rural areas. The government is proposing whether to consider brownfield sites not exempt from the requirement due to their generally low levels of pre-development biodiversity.
Questions for NHF members
- The government are proposing a number of exemptions to the Net Gain requirements - for example, change of use permissions and brownfield sites. Are there any further development types which should be considered for exemption? Why?
- The government propose that approval of a biodiversity gain plan must take place before development can take place on sites with outline planning permissions, or permissions to permit development in phases. Do you agree with this? Why?
- For smaller sites, the government is proposing to create a metric to reduce cost/time burdens potentially brought in by BNG rules. Do you agree with this? Why? What metric would you suggest? Do you think an extended transition period beyond 2 years for smaller sites is a good idea? Are there any other changes which could be made to reduce the burden on developers of smaller sites?
- The government proposes that developers submit the core biodiversity gain information with their planning application, and to have finalised and approved a complete biodiversity net gain plan before commencement. This will include details of any off-site biodiversity gains, the use of credits, and significant on-site enhancements. Do you agree with this proposal? Why?
- The government proposes that where on-site biodiversity gains cannot be made, developers can opt for off-site enhancement or creation. Incentives for biodiversity gains to be made locally to the development will exist, but the government plans to allow non-local gains (anywhere within England) to be permitted. Is this the right approach? What, if any, impact will this have on housing associations?
- The government proposes where developers are able to exceed the biodiversity gain objective for a given development, that they should be allowed to use or sell the excess units as off-site gains for another development. Do you agree with this proposal?
You can read our member briefing below and send your answers, or discuss this matter further by emailing our Policy team.
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