Biodiversity net gain (BNG) will become an integral part of the development process as the government considers ways to restore nature in the face of rapid biodiversity decline in England.

Biodiversity net gain follows the government’s pledge to ‘leave the environment in a better state than we found it and pass on to the next generation a natural environment protected and enhanced for the future’, as set out in the 2018 Defra 25 Year Environment Plan. 

BNG will transform the way developments are planned, designed, built and maintained. As biodiversity is built into the planning process, developers must go beyond mitigation into having a measurably positive effect on the environment. 

As well as providing extra habitat for wildlife after years of destruction, BNG requirements are expected to provide beautiful natural spaces for communities.

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What BNG means for developers

BNG means that mitigation measures will no longer be enough. Instead, developers will have to measurably improve their effect on the environment and biodiversity. Alongside this, they must contribute to nature conservation and environmental priorities such as achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Biodiversity net gain should be considered from the very beginning of a project. Developers in England will have to demonstrate to planning authorities that compensation options have been considered and evaluated, with a biodiversity net gain plan being included in the planning application. In Wales and Scotland, BNG has not yet been considered as a legal requirement.

The Environment Bill sets out specific measures to achieving BNG as a mandatory requirement of a development. Developers must register a 10% increase in biodiversity of a site, and this data will be recorded on a national register.

How APEM can help

APEM’s niche specialist teams offer their expertise in surveying and monitoring to clients throughout the planning and development process, in order to measure biodiversity net gain.

We provide a BNG plan to be submitted with the planning application.

Firstly, we carry out an assessment of biodiversity on the site of the proposed development and create a baseline with existing data. Our ecology team will work with you to identify how habitats may be impacted by a proposed development. 

Our site surveys are mapped using UK Habitat Classification methodology, with aerial surveys used for inaccessible or large-scale areas. Our unique H2OVER® offering gives ultra-high resolution imagery to identify habitat types and model potential effects and options, which can be presented on a 3D visualisation for stakeholder engagement.

Using biodiversity metrics, we assess the quality of the site and look at restoring declining habitats or creating new ones. This information is translated into biodiversity ‘units’, enabling us to quantify biodiversity and therefore calculate net gain.

Our knowledgeable team of ecologists and GIS (geographical information systems) specialists will design habitat creation schemes to support the BNG process. Our experience in habitat restoration projects and mitigation design ranges from rewilding rivers to building artificial badger setts and more. 

The APEM team will make recommendations to ensure your BNG obligations are met. Our assessments state the impact of the planned development and the team will work with you to agree to pragmatic ways forward to achieve these obligations.

Our consultancy and field teams enable you to deliver BNG projects in practice, ensuring that your development not only meets the statutory requirements, but also makes a measurable contribution to giving back to nature and our communities.

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Related content

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