Biodiversity Net Gain is an approach to development and land management that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was beforehand. It is intended to deliver measurable improvements for biodiversity by creating or enhancing habitats in association with development. Achieving Biodiversity Net Gain means that natural habitats will be extended or improved as part of a development or project. Development will be designed in a way that provides benefits to people and nature and reduces its impacts on the wider environment.
The Environment Act 2021 outlines that achieving at least a 10% net gain in biodiversity will become a legal requirement for development granted planning permission under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 in England, unless specific exemptions apply. Secondary legislation is expected to be published towards the end of November 2023 which will specify the dates from which the requirement comes into force and provide further detail on the specific legal requirements. The Government has announced that this mandatory national requirement will apply to new developments seeking planning permission from January 2024 (for major development) and April 2024 (for small sites).
Draft Guidance Note
The requirement to demonstrate and deliver at least 10% Biodiversity Net Gain and the core processes involved in doing so are set nationally and will be mandatory for most development proposals seeking planning permission in England. However, there are limited areas where the requirement can be tailored to local circumstances. A draft Biodiversity Net Gain Guidance Note has been produced to provide guidance and advice on calculating and delivering Biodiversity Net Gain in Somerset. It aims to ensure a consistent and efficient approach aligned to local policy context, by making clear the requirements and processes in Somerset.
The document is intended to provide technical guidance and is primarily aimed at the development industry (in relation to housing, non-residential, minerals and waste) as well as anyone considering promoting land for habitat creation and enhancement in Somerset. As such, the primary audience for the document is planning applicants, developers, planning agents, ecologists, landowners, land managers, land agents and site promoters. It may also be of interest to a wide range of conservation bodies and other technical stakeholders and the general public.
The intention is that this Guidance Note will be updated as necessary to respond to changes in national guidance, local policy development (including the Local Nature Recovery Strategy and the Somerset Local Plan), teething issues and challenges which arise, and other national and local context changes as considered necessary and appropriate.
The document provides information on:
- The policy context for Biodiversity Net Gain and how its delivery fits with national and local plans, strategies and objectives;
- What Biodiversity Net Gain is, the basics of how it works and when it applies;
- The key stages of the process in relation to planning applications;
- A sequential approach to be followed in determining whether Biodiversity Net Gain should be provided on-site, off-site or via statutory credits;
- A holistic approach to Biodiversity Net Gain with alignment to six Somerset Biodiversity Net Gain Principles, linked to objectives in existing adopted plans, strategies and projects;
- How to consider ‘strategic significance’ within the Biodiversity Net Gain Metric in order to deliver nature recovery in Somerset;
- How Biodiversity Net Gain will be secured from new development;
- How the Council will enable off-site delivery mechanisms to come forward in Somerset;
- How monitoring and enforcement of Biodiversity Net Gain is proposed to work; and
- Proposed planning validation requirements.
Monday 6th November 2023 until Monday 4th December 2023
We are seeking views on the Guidance Note and the proposed validation requirements from planning applicants, developers, planning agents, ecologists, landowners, land managers, land agents, site promoters, nature conservation bodies, other technical stakeholders and the general public.
We are seeking views specifically on:
- Our proposed processes for dealing with Biodiversity Net Gain through the planning process (including validation requirements and approach for securing BNG from new development);
- Our proposed approach for tailoring Biodiversity Net Gain locally through use of the Somerset BNG Principles, definition of strategic significance and the sequential approach;
- Our proposed approach for enabling off-site delivery mechanisms in Somerset;
- Our proposed approach for monitoring Biodiversity Net Gain; and
- The draft conclusions of the accompanying Strategic Environmental Assessment / Habitat Regulations Assessment Screening Report
To take part in the consultation, visit our consultation portal. Here you can find the Draft Biodiversity Net Gain Guidance Note, Strategic Environmental Assessment / Habitat Regulations Assessment Screening Report, Consultation Statement and our online survey.
Alternatively, you can email responses or write to us at:
- Biodiversity Net Gain, Somerset Council, County Hall, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 4DY
You can also respond directly through comments on social media @SomersetCouncil
Paper copies of the consultation documents are available for public viewing at:
- Bridgwater House, Bridgwater, TA6 3AR
Monday to Friday, 8.45am to 5.00pm
- Council Offices, Cannard’s Grave Road, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BT
Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.00pm
- Petters Way Council Offices, Yeovil, BA20 1AS
Monday to Tuesday and Thursday to Friday 9.00am to 4.00pm, first Wednesday of the month 11.00am to 4.00pm and every other Wednesday 9.00am to 4.00pm
- Deane House, Belvedere Road, Taunton, TA1 1HE
Monday – Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm
- West Somerset House, 20 Fore Street, Williton, TA4 4QA
Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm
- County Hall, Taunton, TA1 4DY
Monday – Friday 8.00am to 6.00pm, Saturday 09:00am to 4.00pm
- Hub libraries: Taunton, Minehead, Frome, Bridgwater, Yeovil, Glastonbury