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Natural England launches updated biodiversity metric

Words: Laura Edgar
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Three new tools designed to help developers measure biodiversity net gain have been launched by Natural England.

It is hoped that they will guarantee that new developments are “nature positive”.

The Biodiversity Metric 3.0 will replace the beta Biodiversity Metric 2.0, which was published in 2019.

If a development affects biodiversity, the tools should ensure that development is delivered in a way that helps to restore any biodiversity lost, and delivers “thriving” natural space for local communities.

The environment bill, currently making its way through Parliament, proposes that biodiversity net gain must be measured using a recognised biodiversity metric.

According to Natural England, the Biodiversity Metric 3.0 will provide a way to measure and account for nature losses and gains resulting from development or changes in land management.

Natural England chair Tony Juniper said: “Investing in nature’s recovery is a vital national priority. These innovative new tools will help advance that ambition via the development planning process, ensuring we leave the natural environment - both terrestrial and marine – in a measurably better state than it was before.

“As well as benefiting nature, biodiversity net gain can also give greater access to nature where people live and work, and can streamline the planning process by objectively and transparently quantifying any losses and gains in biodiversity.”

Biodiversity Metric 3.0 will become the industry standard biodiversity metric for all on-land and intertidal development types in England. It will be a requirement for ecological consultants, developers, local planning authorities, landowners and others through the environment bill.

Natural England has also launched Small Sites Metric (SSM), a beta version designed to simplify the process of calculating biodiversity net gain on smaller development sites, and the Environmental Benefits from Nature Tool (EBNT) to give developers a way to explore the benefits habitats bring to people, such as improvements to water quality and flood management services.

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