BIO WHAT GAIN?

Our Principal Ecologist Rob Harrison sheds a little light on the recent Government decision to implement a mandatory approach to Biodiversity Net Gain.

 Earlier this year, we saw the Government introduce its landmark Environment Bill, which will bring into force a mandatory approach to Biodiversity Net Gain. Since then, we’ve been hearing one common question over and over again:

“What IS Biodiversity Net Gain?”

Well; according to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the term ‘biodiversity‘ makes reference to the diverse range of life on earth, incorporating different species of animals, plants, and micro-organisms surviving across the globe.

But it’s more than just that. It includes the genetic diversity necessary to ensure a healthy and resilient species that will thrive, rather than merely survive, and to the variety of ecosystems where these species live.

From wetlands, lakes, rivers and marine ecosystems to deserts, mountains, grasslands, and forests, to man-made agricultural and urban landscapes, biodiversity focuses on protecting and enhancing all of these habitats and the species that depend on them.

Achieving Biodiversity Net Gain can be a creative process: Green architecture in Camden, London.
Pic: iStock/_ultraforma_

The past Century has seen a significant decline in biodiversity, which has dangerous implications for future wildlife (and, indeed, humankind). What the Environment Bill will bring into play is an expectation for Local Authorities and developers to protect and enhance biodiversity when making plans for their allocated regions.

It doesn’t take a PHD in rocket science to work out what has caused that decline: the impact of climate change, intensive agriculture, changes in land-use, including deforestation and urbanisation, overconsumption and production of waste and non-native invasive species such as Japanese knotweed, have all played a key part, and now the onus is falling on us to redress the balance.

As such, the Government is now enforcing regulations on LPA, which will see them step up their response to biodiversity losses by adopting clear environmental and planning policy requirements that encourage developers to take account of, and address, biodiversity impacts.

The aim is to see planning policy evolve to promote biodiversity enhancement, thereby delivering a Biodiversity Net Gain. A combination of planning and investment can work together to enhance biodiversity, while also having a positive impact on important human issues such as travel and flood prevention, ultimately boosting local economies.

Moving forward planning applications from developers will need to demonstrate that biodiversity has been taken into account, researched and that steps have been made to ensure Biodiversity Net Gain is included as a matter of course.

For guidance on identifying impediments and advice on overcoming them, contact Rob at rob.harrison@harrislamb.com or call 0115 947 6236.