Government proposes to make protecting wildlife central to new developments

Plans to ensure wildlife can be better protected and enhanced in new housing and infrastructure developments have been set out in a consultation launched today by Environment Minister Rebecca Pow.

The proposals set out in the Biodiversity Net Gain consultation aim to help communities, planners, developers and planning authorities ensure new developments are nature positive, putting nature and biodiversity gain at the heart of decision-making.

Biodiversity Net Gain is an approach to development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before, protecting existing habitats and ensuring any impacts are compensated for with natural habitat and ecological features.

Developments will have to be delivered in a way which helps reduce and restore any biodiversity loss during construction, and also delivers a 10% boost to the area’s biodiversity.

yellow and black bird on tree branch

Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, said: ‘The pandemic has reinforced how much our homes, communities and outdoor spaces mean to us. Our commitment to protecting and enhancing our natural world can and must go hand in hand with our ambition to build more high quality homes.

‘Our plans to make sure new developments better protect and enhance wildlife and nature will create better places for people to live and work, and it will ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations.’

The consultation has been developed with advice from the government’s statutory nature body, Natural England.

Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England, added: ‘Investing in Nature’s recovery is a vital national priority and biodiversity net gain is an ambitious and innovative mechanism to help do it. It has the potential to bring real-life benefits, including funding for Nature’s recovery, in the process ensuring we leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was before.

‘It is important to remember, however, that the starting point is to avoid harm in the first place, moving to net gain arrangements only in cases where developments meet all other planning requirements. I’m delighted that Natural England’s technical expertise was able to shape this policy and look forward to using it to secure better outcomes for Nature, while streamlining the planning process.’

The Government has also announced a new funding pot of over £4 million to help Local Planning Authorities and other local authorities with planning oversight, to prepare for Biodiversity Net Gain which will become mandatory two years after Royal Assent of the Environment Act.

In related news, towns and cities in the UK have been hit by flash flooding 51 times since 2007, according to a new report published by the think tank Bright Blue.

Photo by Jonny Gios


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