2.51 The NPPF 2019 sets out that planning policies and decisions ‘should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by minimising impact on and providing net gains for biodiversity…’ The Environment Bill proposes to introduce a 10% mandatory requirement for biodiversity net gain within development. Biodiversity net gain (BNG) is the achievement of measurable gains for biodiversity through new development and occurs when a development leaves biodiversity in a better state than before development. Work is progressing on the B&NES Biodiversity Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) setting out local requirements for delivering biodiversity net gain.
2.52 The government is considering how mandatory net gain will apply to different sites. There may be targeted exemption for some brownfield sites, as well as those with specific ownership characteristics such as self-build schemes. Householder development (such as extensions) may also be exempt and the government is considering how BNG will apply to minor development schemes, including whether they are subject to a lower net gain requirement.
2.53 Under the B&NES Council Ecological Emergency declaration, it is also proposed to consider the potential to increase the percentage of biodiversity net gain through the Local Plan Partial Update beyond that required by the new Environment Bill.
Consultation Reference DM 11
New Policy for Biodiversity Net Gain
It is proposed to introduce a new policy requiring biodiversity net gain within development. It is proposed to consult on the policy options set out below (subject to viability testing). The application of these requirement options to different types of development (e.g. major and minor development proposals, brownfield sites etc) will be considered further in preparing the Draft Plan in light of government guidance.
Option 1: Development will only be permitted where a Biodiversity Net Gain of at least 10% is demonstrated and secured in perpetuity (at least 30 years) subject to other requirements as set out below.
Option 2: Development will only be permitted where a Biodiversity Net Gain of 15% is demonstrated and secured in perpetuity (at least 30 years) subject to other requirements as set out below.
Further policy requirements applying to both options for consultation under this policy are proposed as follows:
a) The latest DEFRA metric or agreed equivalent is used to quantify the baseline and post-development biodiversity value of the development site and off-site areas proposed for habitat creation
b) That the assessment be undertaken by a suitably qualified and/or experienced ecologist and is submitted together with baseline and proposed habitat mapping in a digital format with the application
c) A 30 year management plan is submitted detailing how the post-development biodiversity values of the site and any supporting off-site mitigation will be achieved
d) Any off-site habitats created are well located to maximise opportunities for local nature recovery
Option 3: Subject to government guidance consider bespoke local Biodiversity Net Gain requirements for brownfield sites and householder applications