Biodiversity Net Gain FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions For Landowners, Developers & LPAs

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Frequently Asked Questions For Landowners

The owner or leaseholder of the natural environment/ land that provides the habitats is responsible for the creation, preservation, enhancement and maintenance of the habitat created for a minimum of 30 years from the date of the completion of the development sites. The owner of the biodiversity units could be the developer unless the land is sold to a new owner OR the landowner if they leased the land directly to the developer, local authorities OR the biodiversity broker who leased the land from the landowner. As a BNG broker, Civity assumes the responsibility of looking after the land for the 30-year BNG period. Local planning authorities are also involved in overseeing the implementation of Biodiversity Gain Plans and providing planning permission.

Landowners who deliver biodiversity units can benefit financially from the rent derived from land that, until now, produced little or no revenue. This could be increased by entering into a maintenance contract for 30 years. The revenue we offer is reliable and consistent, based on the land management rather than the resulting yield. This means that years of bad weather or unforeseen planting failures will not result in lower incomes. It is all part of restoring the wild. Other benefits include no loss of facilities and the contribution the landowner makes to the ecology of the region.

Only a qualified ecologist can value the biodiversity value of the land. You could find one on the web, your professional advisor might help, OR you could contact Civity here.

The potential biodiversity net gain value of your land in Natural England will depend upon a number of variables, including:

  • The area of the land
  • Its accessibility
  • Its current use as habitat banks
  • Its potential as a habitat creation
  • The condition of the land
  • The type of land (woodland, riverbank, scrubb, arable etc)
  • The rarity of the species that already inhabit the land
  • The proximity to nearby development projects/ nationally significant infrastructure projects
  • Its vulnerability to extreme weather

The Environment Act demands that, if possible, Biodiversity Units come from within the development site. If this is not possible, then adjacent to the site or nearby. If that is not possible, other biodiversity areas will be considered. A “Spatial Risk Multiplier” has the effect of reducing the value of biodiverse units the further away they are from the development site. However, sometimes more remote sites are better suited for the creation of rarer habitat types OR that have extra financial value because of a “Strategic Significance Multiplier”. So, there are opportunities to benefit from Biodiversity Net Gain at sites located not only near developing areas but also in more remote areas.

A Conservation Covenants is a legal agreement made between a landowner and a recognised body such as a conservation covenant charity, natural capital or a commercial entity whose business is to secure the health and perpetuation of wildlife in Britain even if ownership of the land changes hands. Conservation covenants (or similar legal arrangements such as Section 106 Agreements) will be necessary for biodiversity credit broking.

The biodiversity credit market is being established through private bodies, ‘responsible bodies’ (normally local authorities) and is open to competition. Biodiversity credit values are currently set by market rates in different areas of the country and will soon be benchmarked by DEFRA and Natural England who created the Biodiversity Metric. The government’s statutory credit price is deliberately a lot higher than the market price to promote use of the private offerings. If in doubt, contact should be made with either of these two organisations.

The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), of whom Civity is a leading member, ensures good practice amongst its members.

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Our Top Biodiversity Net Gain FAQs For Developers

The purpose of a Biodiversity net gain plan is to enable local planning authorities to assess how the adverse impacts on habitats have been minimised and what steps have, or will, been taken to maintain the natural environment over 31 years. Approval of the BNG plan must be submitted in advance of the planning permission application. It will include: 

  • the type of habitat concerned
  • the pre-development and post-development value of the onsite habitat calculated by an ecologist using the DEFRA metric calculator
  • the offsite value of the habitat(s)
  • its distance from the development site
  • any biodiversity units purchased.

Yes! The Environment Act Is clear that the offset should be on the development site and, if not, as close as possible. The effect of the development projects on the biodiversity of the land must be included in delivering the Biodiversity Net Gain Plan. A “Spatial Risk Multiplier” diminishes the biodiversity value of the offsite land in proportion to its distance from the development site if the offset is far removed from the development site.

It all depends on what is required. We work with licensed and experienced ecologists offering consultancy services and/or practical support as follows:

  • Habitat creation surveys and biodiversity metric valuations.
  • Biodiversity metric calculations to establish the Biodiversity Net Gain approach required for any given site.
  • Bespoke searches for land and identification of offsetting opportunities for developers.
  • Implementing the creation, protection, biodiversity improvements and management of habitat creation in biodiversity offset sites.
  • Liaising with planning authorities, estate owners and other stakeholders.

Civity works closely with Local Planning Authorities; it has a wealth of knowledge of the environmental law, the planning process as well as scientific and on-the-ground experience of local ecology. All this is available to biodiversity net gain for developers through Civity’s consultancy services. We will work alongside your team to create a logical, comprehensive plan expressed in terms the planners like to see and you will understand.

It is incumbent on developers to find the biodiversity units or statutory biodiversity credits needed to offset their biodiversity loss.

  • The biodiversity value of a piece of land is assessed in biodiversity metrics. Factors influencing the valuation include:

    • The location relative to the site of biodiversity damage (e.g., the development site).
    • The location in relation to neighbouring land.
    • The site’s size. If necessary, its value can be part of an aggregated series of plots. 
    • Any existing use of the land as a habitat and the condition it is in.
    • Its use by rare protected species.
    • Its proneness to exceptional weather conditions.
    • Protection from future changes in land use (section 106 or conservation covenants).
    conservation covenants).

If there is a shortfall in the development’s biodiversity score, biodiversity units may be bought from various sources. To find them, the developer can:

  • consult a professional advisor
  • ask the local planning authority
  • Go direct to a landowner
  • Ask Civity by clicking here

Biodiversity credits are units sold by the government at a deliberately high price to encourage the market to find its own levels for biodiversity units. Biodiversity units can be bought from authorised sellers such as landowners, land banks and land agents.

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Biodiversity Net Gain For LPAs FAQs

Civity’s expertise and services offer vital support to local authorities in achieving Mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain. Our role revolves around guiding and advising developers and landowners to understand the principles, protocols and benefits of delivering Biodiversity Net Gain. Apart from being approved to offer Biodiversity Units when required, we can also help developers assemble all the required documentation and information so their application for planning permission for their development site is complete. This ensures Local Planning Authority’s time is not wasted. We have in-depth experience working hand-in-hand with local planning authorities and developers from our extensive backgrounds as ecological consultants.

It depends on:

  1. The length of the delay to the start of the project
  2. The degree of degradation of the natural environment habitat during that time.

 

In the first place, the relevant local planning authority will need to be satisfied that the Biodiversity Metric has been properly applied, especially in cases of nationally significant infrastructure projects. The developer has up to 12 months to start and may need to update the metric calculations if the site has changed. The developer may need to replace the lost value of the habitat creation in order to reach the mandated 10% gain. The biodiversity metric should take into account reasonable delay.

If the damage to the development site habitat is permanent, the local authorities may seek compensation from the developer who caused the delay.

No. Monitoring should have been built into the agreement with the developer and should be set out in the Biodiversity Gain Plan.

However, if the developer bought the Biodiversity Units, the onus falls on the seller (not necessarily on the landowner). If Civity sells the Biodiversity Units, then Civity becomes responsible for the preservation and maintenance of the habitats for the full BNG 30-year term. This will include the production of timely monitoring reports that detail the progress and results of habitat management works.

BS 8683 sets out the Good Practice to deliver Biodiversity Net Gain making a positive contribution to the Good Practice paper by The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM). It is aimed at the practical issues that face procurement, contracting, project management, EIA coordination, environmental and sustainability management, landscape architects, land agents, estate managers and biodiversity offset brokers like Civity.

Civity staff are active members of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) who’s strict rules demand an honest, responsible and ethical approach to their work, ensuring that the partnership is in line with local nature recovery strategies and community values.

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