The CLA is calling for more guidance and greater emphasis on offsite provision, as the start date for biodiversity net gain edges closer.
Biodiversity net gain (BNG) is a way to contribute to the recovery of nature while developing land, making sure the habitat for wildlife is in a better state than it was before development.
It will apply from November 2023 for developments in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, unless exempt, and apply to small sites from April 2024.
Country Land and Business Association President Mark Tufnell said:
“Biodiversity net gain is an important policy to support ambitions for nature recovery and it is right that any development or infrastructure project should make up for any biodiversity losses. But as we approach the November start date there are still a number of key building blocks not in place, despite reassurances from Government that it is working to get secondary legislation and guidance out as soon as possible.
“We are also concerned about the lack of resources and expertise in local authorities, despite increased funding from central government. Training from Natural England is coming too late for many officers, and there is concern around how councils will monitor and enforce BNG.
“BNG is rightly encouraged to go onsite, but the CLA would also like to see a greater emphasis on offsite provision, which can be provided by landowners in the local area to help reconnect habitats over the landscape.
“The transition for the inclusion of small sites in April 2024 seems a reasonable timeframe. However, given the lack of secondary legislation and guidance at this stage, it is a concern that authorities will still be grappling with the introduction of BNG from November and these issues will not be overcome by April, when there will be a higher demand for resourcing and understanding.”
More on BNG
In this blog, CLA Chief Surveyor Andrew Shirley breaks down how BNG will work in practice and highlights how it will affect members.