We are all familiar with material shortages, skill gaps, achieving net zero targets and the need for more diverse housing solutions to meet current demand. Finding solutions that tackle more than one of these problems is more important than ever

Given the combined climate and ecological crisis, it is believed that increasing our available living space and biodiversity could potentially be a way to combat both. While this is a strong motivation for local authorities – many of whom have declared a climate emergency in the Southwest with ambitious net-zero targets, the UK government is currently putting the Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) into effect under environmental law.

There are several aspects to the environmental law, many of which relate to the way in which environmental matters are regulated and monitored in the UK in the absence of the EU institutions. It is currently going through Parliament and will introduce a net biodiversity benefit requirement as a condition of building permit in England.

The local planning authority can only approve the biodiversity gain plan if it considers the Biodiversity Gain Objective (BGO) to be achieved if the “developmental biodiversity value” changes the biodiversity value before the habitat is opened up. exceeds at least 10%.

This is a fairly broad concept, but it includes the following:

  • Habitat improvement at the development site. In order to achieve this, there must be a planning condition, planning obligation or a “maintenance contract” in the case of construction projects, which ensures the maintenance of this construction work for at least 30 years after completion of the construction project.
  • Habitat improvement that must be carried out in an area other than the development area, but only if the expansion is required under a planning condition or a “conservation agreement” that is entered in a proposed new Defra Profit Area Register for Biodiversity and its maintenance for at least 30 Years.
  • The biodiversity value of all “Biodiversity Credits” purchased for Defra development.

Aligning residential construction with the goals of the Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) means that houses are built in an environmentally conscious manner – the contribution to the climate and biodiversity crisis should not be underestimated, but it will also have a positive effect on the residents.

Aside from the relatively common additions we think of such as bat and bird boxes, green spaces and wildflower plantings, new innovative solutions are being found. Tiny forests and bus stops for bees are great examples of these innovations as we can begin to incorporate BNG planning into our lives, communities and spaces.

SWPA building and development frameworks are available to all public sector organizations – with every development they go through, the specification can be changed to include BNG as part of any project and mini-competition.

The ecological services of the SWPA advisory framework can be used for all residential and non-residential areas in order to provide an ecological baseline and orientation for BNG in this development.

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