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Michael Gove sets out proposals for greener developments

Michael Gove has unveiled Government proposals to place the environment at the heart of new developments.

The government is consulting on mandating biodiversity net gain in development. This is to protect and enhance habitats for the future.

The proposed new rules need developers to assess the type of habitat and its condition before submitting plans. Car parks and industrial sites would usually come lower on this scale. Natural grasslands and woodlands would have a much higher ranking.

Developers would then have to prove how they are improving biodiversity. Whether through the creation of green corridors, planting more trees, or forming local nature spaces.

The consultation proposes to tax developers when they are unable to do so. This will pay for habitat creation or improvement elsewhere.

The proposed standardised, mandatory approach would give developers clarity and certainty.

It will still fulfill the Government’s vision of delivering 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s a reality.

Net gain

This is the first step in the government’s ambition to embed the wider principle of ‘environmental net gain’ in development.

This is to drive measurable improvements for all aspects of the environment. Such as air quality, flood defences and clean water.

Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, said:

“Our commitment to protecting and enhancing our natural world can go hand in hand with our ambition to build more high-quality homes.

“This will not only create better places for people to live and work, but ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations.”

Biodiversity impact assessment

Warwickshire County Council have trialed and put into place a system to ensure all developments lead to no net loss of biodiversity. Each development has prepared a Biodiversity Impact Assessment before building.

Dr Julia Baker, Biodiversity Technical Specialist for Balfour Beatty, said:

“Early planning allows for the integration of Biodiversity Net Gain measures into the planning of schemes.

“This reduces the cost and generating long-term benefits for nature and society.”

Andrew Sells, Chairman of Natural England which has given extensive advice to Government on Net Gain, said:

“If Net Gain succeeds for nature then it will also be succeeding for people. It will mean that they are living and working with a thriving natural environment all around them.

“We can play an important role in helping developers and local authorities achieve Net Gain on the ground.”

The consultation opened on 2 December and will run until 10 February.

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