Department for Environment Food and Rural affairs’ summary of responses and government response.
The consultation was launched in December 2018 and ran for 10 weeks. The consultation document first set out the objectives of an effective net gain policy for the environment, development and local communities. The second part of the consultation described what is meant by “biodiversity net gain” and “environmental net gain”. The third part of the consultation sought views on whether to mandate biodiversity net gain, and how a mandatory approach might be implemented most effectively. Here we summarise the findings of the consultation, with the knowledge that biodiversity net gain has been made mandatory.
- 78% of respondents stated that biodiversity net gain should be mandated.
- Legislation will require developments to achieve a 10% net gain for biodiversity.
- Government will not introduce broad exemptions from delivering biodiversity net gain, beyond those exemptions already proposed for permitted development and householder applications such as extensions, and will instead introduce narrow exemptions for the most constrained types of development.
- Concerns raised about the cost sensitivity of the redevelopment of post-industrial developed land will be addressed by a targeted exemption for brownfield sites that meet a number of criteria including that they (i) do not contain priority habitats and (ii) face genuine difficulties in delivering viable development.
- Consultation responses expressed strong support for the proposal that mandatory net gain should not weaken the existing legal and policy protections for protected sites, protected species or irreplaceable habitat. Government will therefore keep irreplaceable habitat sites out of scope of the net gain requirement and consider the best approach for net gain where development affects statutory protected sites.
- Government will improve environmental mapping so that biodiversity impacts can be better avoided in the first instance.
- The consultation document and consultation responses acknowledged the risk that a stronger requirement for biodiversity net gain could encourage landowners to degrade habitats before applying for planning permission. Government will address concerns about net gain driving habitat degradation prior to applications through suitable provisions in legislation.
- In response to broad support at consultation, government will use the Defra Biodiversity metric to measure changes to biodiversity under net gain requirements established in the Environment Bill.
- Government will require net gain outcomes, through habitat creation or enhancement as part of delivering mandatory biodiversity net gain, to be maintained for a minimum of 30 years, and will encourage longer term protection where this is acceptable to the landowner.
To read the full report click here.