23 Oct, 2019
Oli and Nick

RammSanderson comment on how to proceed with land development schemes now the latest Environment Bill has confirmed that projects will need to deliver a 10% biodiversity net gain.

On 19 October, The Government released the latest update to the Environment Bill and set within it was confirmation that all future projects involving the development of land will need to deliver a 10% biodiversity net gain. There is also a requirement to manage those enhancements for thirty years.

The updated Bill has massive implications for house builders, farmers and land owners who may have land banks they are preparing for development as they may need to re-assess the layout of their site to ensure this gain has been delivered, or risk planning refusal and project delays.

This is not something that has come as a surprise to RammSanderson as we have encountered several instances already that have required this as part of planning applications, and have been working with our clients to plan in anticipation of bio diversity net gains becoming a mandatory  requirement. Although a 10% net gain is a surprisingly significant amount.

The purpose of the Environment Bill is “To make provision about targets, plans and policies for improving the natural environment; to make provision for the Office for Environmental Protection; to make provision about waste and resource efficiency; to make provision about air quality; to make provision for the recall of products that fail to meet environmental standards; to make provision about water; to make provision about nature and biodiversity; to make provision for conservation covenants; to make provision about the regulation of chemicals; and for connected purposes.”

As ever though, the devil is in the detail. Part 6 of the Bill on section 88, page 94 covers; biodiversity gain as condition of planning permission, detail about the general duty to conserve and enhance biodiversity, and biodiversity reports.

The intention is clear, not only is the Government aiming to ‘conserve’ biodiversity, it intends to go further by insisting on ‘enhancement’.

The Bill outlines the intention to implement more ‘local nature recovery strategies’ to ensure habitats are protected. Subsequently,  biodiversity is going to be attached to every planning application and will not be granted unless the developer has submitted a biodiversity net gain plan and that plan has been approved by the planning authority.

Nick Sanderson, Director from RammSanderson commented, “As ecologists and habitat specialists, we welcome any changes that protect habitats, however we are also realists in that we understand that as a growing population we need housing and as a nation we need connectivity and transport infrastructures. The way we work with our clients on land development projects ensures that proposed areas are thoroughly surveyed to assess the habitat and environmental impacts to ensure measures are included within the planning proposals that mitigate and enhance the impact of the development.”

If you would like to discuss the updated Bill and how it may impact on your future land development projects please get in touch.