Biodiversity Net Gain for Developers, Planners, Architects
BNG has the potential to be extremely costly if not handled correctly. While there will be some financial impacts, these can be reduced if considered from the outset.
What we recommend:
Commission habitat surveys before any layout plans are designed. Knowing any restrictions or costly habitats early allows you to avoid impacting these areas and design around them, meaning you don’t have to pay for them later or risk having to re-draft a whole plan when the cost of offsetting those losses comes in too high.
Start building contacts with local landowners looking to produce credits. It is not only the total number of units that must be considered but also the type of habitats involved. If a development will lead to the loss of something distinct such as wetland or woodland the compensation can only be achieved through the creation or enhancement of the same habitat type. This is called bespoke offsite mitigation and would require a developer to find a landowner willing to create or enhance the required habitats. Alternatively, the developer can avoid the loss of these habitats as mentioned in point one.
Find an ecologist with knowledge of Green Infrastructure. BNG is not the only new piece of legislation that requires forethought and consideration throughout the process. Green Infrastructure must now be considered for all developments, this has some overlap with BNG but can also be at odds if not designed carefully.
Land and Heritage can advise on all of these elements.
Expected cost of BNG units.
You may have heard the terms Units and Credits, these are not interchangeable terms. BNG Units are the measurement of biodiversity value; landowners can create excess BNG Units to use or sell. The Government BNG units are called Statutory Credits, these are intended to be the last resort if the 10% target cannot be achieved in other way.
When buying units from another landowner there is a multiplier applied depending on the distance of the supplier from the development. If the supplier is within the same Local Planning Authority (LPA) or National Character Area (NCA) the multiplier is 1, within the neighbouring LPA or NCA the multiplier is 0.75, beyond this the multiplier is 0.5.
Indicative Statutory Credit prices have been published which separate the type of habitats needed for “purchase” into tiers; Tier 1 will cost £42,000 per credit while Tier 5 will cost £650,000 per credit. Due to the assumed distance from the development site, Statutory Credits will always be subject to the 0.5 multiplier. If a development requires 2 units from offsite mitigation, they would have to purchase 4 Statutory Credits of the relevant Tier.
This is why we strongly recommend working with an experienced ecologist from the outset and forming relationships with local landowners.
What can Land and Heritage do for you?
Land and Heritage can support you in all areas of the BNG process.
Our team can assess the habitats on your development site to provide a baseline BNG calculation. We will work closely with you through the early design process to provide advice on what areas of your site should be retained to include as much on-site BNG credit as possible. We can also undertake any potential protected species surveys required prior to planning submission.
Our team can also support you with Green Infrastructure, Arboriculture, Heritage and Landscape elements. All of these elements are important to consider for BNG in the early design stages, to ensure a successful planning application and avoid expensive mitigation reduce the need to redesign.
Contact us today to have a chat about your development and we can put together a no-obligation quote.