Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is transforming how we finance, design, build and operate development, with the UK’s Good Practice Principles providing an approach for development to generate long-term, measurable and meaningful benefits for biodiversity (CIEEM, CIRIA, IEMA, 2016). But while we are making progress towards this goal, it is important to remain mindful of the connection between nature and people’s wellbeing. BNG can benefit people directly, for example when communities can enjoy high quality natural surroundings either by BNG being achieved within the development footprint or when a biodiversity offset increases people’s access to, or views of, nature. Indirectly, of course, more biodiversity in the right place has a wider societal benefit of supporting a healthy environment for everyone. But poorly– designed BNG can be detrimental to people’s wellbeing, restricting access to nature with a development site, for example, without adequate alternative provision.
WSP is supporting Balfour Beatty, in collaboration with CIEEM and the University of Oxford, and funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Trust, in undertaking a scoping study to determine if, and how, wellbeing should be incorporated more directly into the UK industry’s good practice approach to BNG. As part of this we seek to understand the challenges, issues and risks of incorporating wellbeing and how these might be overcome.
Hannah Williams - Principal Ecologist, WSP in the UK
Julia Baker - Biodiversity Technical Specialist, Balfour Beatty