Biodiversity needs you!

It is now well known that there has been extensive biodiversity loss worldwide, with experts now arguing that it is just as catastrophic for humankind as climate change. According to the WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018, there has been a 60% decline in the size of populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians in just over 40 years. Nationally, the RSPB’s 'State of Nature' report, published in 2016, found that 15% of Britain’s native species are under threat of extinction, while a staggering 53% are in decline.

What is biodiversity net gain?

Development is one of the leading causes of biodiversity loss in the UK. The principle behind Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is that any impacts from development to biodiversity need to be accounted for, and compensated for with equivalent and additional gains. BNG is a move away from opinion-based assessments of biodiversity change and allows for transparent biodiversity reporting by using a metric to quantify biodiversity losses and gains in terms of ‘biodiversity units’. The concept has already been adopted by major UK infrastructure companies such as Network Rail, Transport for London and Highways England and by private developers such as Berkeley Group.

What is changing?

The UK government’s 25-year environment plan is focused on achieving BNG through development and the Westminster government has confirmed that it will use the forthcoming Environment Bill to mandate BNG for development in England. The new regulation will mean that all developments going through the English planning system will need to achieve BNG, otherwise planning permission will be refused.

Need more information, or practical advice?

As a guide to what could be a daunting process, WSP has developed a simple summary for those wanting to know how mandatory BNG might affect them, providing the practical steps they should be taking to ensure compliance.

If you have more questions about BNG, we’d be more than happy to answer them – please contact our Technical Director for Biodiversity,  Tom Butterworth.

Tom leads on Biodiversity Net Gain for WSP, and is supporting clients in both public and private sectors to align their development objectives with supporting wildlife, whilst contributing to industry guidance as the policy landscape emerges for BNG. 

You can hear Tom talk about some of the great BNG work already taking place, in this Engineering Matters podcast (published August 2019).

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