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Gove unveils biodiversity net gain plans

Words: Huw Morris
Biodiversity offsetting: kicked into the long grass?

The government has launched proposals to mandate biodiversity net gain in developments to protect and enhance habitats.

Under the proposals, developers could be required to assess the type of habitat and its condition before submitting plans. They will then have to deliver biodiversity net gain by showing how habitats are enhanced and left in a measurably better state than they were before a scheme.

Developers could demonstrate how they are improving biodiversity through the creation of green corridors, planting more trees, or forming local nature spaces. Green improvements on site would be encouraged, but in the rare circumstances where they are not possible the consultation proposes to charge developers a levy to pay for habitat creation or improvement elsewhere.

Car parks and industrial sites would usually come lower on the scale envisaged under the proposals, while more natural grasslands and woodlands would be given a much higher ranking for their environmental importance.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said a proposed standardised, mandatory approach would give developers clarity and certainty on how to improve the environment while also considering whether small and brownfield sites should be exempt from the rules.

“Mandating biodiversity net gain puts the environment at the heart of planning and development,” said environment secretary Michael Gove. “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.”

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