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The Environment Act and Biodiversity net Gain: What you should know
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The Environment Act and Biodiversity net Gain: What you should know

Once in force, the mandatory requirement to achieve a 10% biodiversity net gains will have a significant impact upon many new developments.

The Environment Act 2021 establishes the framework for the net loss requirement. However, regulations will detail the details. The Government is currently consulting about the practical and legal implications for the new net gain requirement in England. The consultation will close on 5 April 2022. The new requirement will take effect in November 2023 (November 2025 in the case of Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects). Authorities are now looking to existing policies to secure net gains.

Developers who wish to propose larger strategic sites for development will need to be aware of this new requirement. A strategy to deliver net gain across the entire site, in terms of outline or phased schemes, will be required. This sets out the key principles that will inform detailed design throughout the site.

Landowners who can create or enhance habitats to the required standards may be able to rely on off-site enhancement in cases where on-site enhancement is not feasible. The details of the current version 3 biodiversity metric, which considers factors such as the distance of the offsite site from the application scheme will impact the selection of sites that might be suitable.

TheGuide to the Environment Act, Claire Fallows and Rachael Davidson tell you what you need to know about the Government’s consultation including:

  • What developments might be affected by the new requirement
  • What exemptions are possible?
  • How the new requirement will impact planning applications
  • How developers and landowners will benefit from an off-site net gain
  • How the credit markets and biodiversity unit will work

Opportunities will arise for landowners whose land could benefit from biodiversity improvements and who could sell biodiversity units to developers to offset losses – the consultation expects the market for biodiversity units to be worth around £135 million.

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