Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) has been a hot topic across the landscaping industry as it prepares for the initial roll out of the legislation next year.
But despite the significance of BNG on a national scale, many remain unclear on the legislation. Research from Shawbrook shows a third of developers are still in the dark about the new mandatory regulations.
Digital solutions company, Joe’s Blooms has recognised this lack of clarity and created a new ‘highly accessible’ digital BNG tool that puts the solutions into the hands of users.
‘Explore’, which launched earlier this month, is designed to calculate the biodiversity potential of any land across England, giving users the opportunity to “identify what habitats are on their site and determine what their biodiversity baseline unit is,” says Oliver Lewis, CEO and founder of Joe’s Blooms.
It takes the government system and makes it “highly accessible and comprehensible”, helping users to recognise all the opportunities that exist to enhance biodiversity, empowering them to make an informed decision so they “find solutions for uplifting biodiversity which work best for them.”
But how can we trust a ‘machine’ to know what’s best for the environment?
“We believe very strongly that the environment is too important to automate; we do not seek to automate. We seek to provide tools for people who are on the ground to properly determine what the value is and what the opportunities are.”
Ensuring the human element of decision making is left intact, the tool is designed to assist and guide the user, not replace them.
The tool, which is designed with small developers in mind “although it is not exclusive to them”, is the first of several Joe’s Blooms is developing.
The Biodiversity Net Gain Tool
“The next tool that we’re going to be releasing is the Biodiversity Net Gain Tool, and that is basically an end-to-end process.”
It will take users through each step of a site survey, using “photographs, descriptors, explainers etc,” processing what the environmental impact of development will be and guiding users through what their options are to achieve the mandatory 10% increase.
“We do it step by step, so we would say to the user: You have a site of one biodiversity unit, you are destroying 0.1 biodiversity units within it, so we need to get back 0.2 biodiversity units, 1.1 for the 10% uplift.
“First, what can we do on your site? What can we enhance and develop? We start with the on-site solutions first, or how you might want to adjust your design so that you can minimise the amount of damage to biodiversity.”
If no on-site solutions are available, the BNG Tool will connect users with off-site providers.
When can we expect the BNG Tool?
“We are just waiting on the last bit of information from the government on how certain elements of BNG work before we release the main tool.”
Under the updated timeline announced last month, the BNG legislation will begin to roll out in January next year.
It will be mandatory for new housing, industrial and commercial developments to implement the 10% rise from January, while small sites will be applicable from April 2024, and implementation for ‘nationally significant infrastructure projects’ is currently planned for 2025.
Joe’s Blooms aims to make it “as simple as possible for developers and planners of all sizes to identify the maximum biodiversity potential of their land, and play their part in enhancing the natural habitat across the country.”
Natural habitat loss and the decline in native species as a repercussion has also been a prevalent topic, but it is a topic that is discussed and its impact subsequently felt across the country.