Biodiversity net gain delayed until January 2024

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On 27 September 2023, it was announced that the implementation of biodiversity net gain (BNG) will be delayed until January 2024, although implementation date for small sites is still April 2024. This means there is still a lack of certainty about the steps local planning authorities (LPAs) and developers are required to take to comply.  

The government was proposing from November 2023 that planning permissions, apart from proposed limited exemptions and small sites, would be subject to a condition requiring 10% BNG. More information on BNG and credit schemes is available in our article ‘Biodiversity Net Gain Round-Up’.

When will guidance be published?

The government has stated the guidance and regulations will be published by the end of November 2023. However, this leaves LPAs and developers with little time to prepare for the implementation of BNG in January 2024.

The guidance and details promised by the government include:

  • the statutory biodiversity metric to calculate BNG;
  • the draft biodiversity gain plan template to assist developers during the planning application process;
  • the habitat management and monitoring plan template, setting out long-term management of habitats; 
  • BNG guidance including advice for landowners, developers and LPAs about their roles and responsibilities.

What happens next?

Until the regulations and guidance are published in November 2023, the detail of how the BNG requirement will operate is not known. In the meantime, there are some steps that local authorities, developers and landowners can take.

Developers should consider whether BNG can be delivered on-site, if there is an excess of biodiversity units that can be registered and sold or if they need to purchase off-site biodiversity units.

Local authorities and conservation can apply to Defra for ‘responsible body’ status, to enable them to enter into and enforce conservation covenants.

Landowners, including developers and local authorities, may want to consider setting up credit schemes and registering to sell biodiversity units, as well as stacking credits for biodiversity and nutrients. Further information on stacking is available here.

Ashfords has considerable experience of negotiating and advising private clients and public authorities on ecological covenants, and setting up and advising on credit schemes whether for nutrients or BNG. More information on credit schemes can be found here.

If you have any queries or would like further information, please contact our public sector team.

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