news article

Defra shares next steps for Biodiversity Net Gain

25 Oct 2023 | BALI Member News

Following news earlier this year that mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) will be phased from January 2024, Defra has released further details of the introduction.

Most major developments will be subject to BNG from January 2024, whilst small sites and nationally significant infrastructure projects will be subject to the scheme from April 2024 and 2025 respectively.

Small sites are defined as:

  1.  For residential: where the number of dwellings to be provided is between one and nine inclusive on a site having an area of less than one hectare, or where the number of dwellings to be provided is not known, a site area of less than 0.5 hectares.
  2. For non-residential: where the floor space to be created is less than 1,000 square metres OR where the site area is less than one hectare.

Mandatory BNG will only apply to new applications for planning permission for major developments made after January 2024.

Defra are currently drafting the following statutory instruments which will be released later this year:

  • Exemptions: which types of developments will be exempt from mandatory BNG
  • Irreplaceable Habitats: which habitats should be considered irreplaceable for BNG purposes and therefore subject to bespoke compensation
  • The Register: how the register will work and what will be mandated (including the need for land managers to register off-site biodiversity units)
  • Planning System: how BNG will work through the planning process, including approval of the biodiversity gain plan and the process for phased development
  • Commencement regulations: Switching on the provisions in the Environment Act 2021 for the implementation date and setting out transitional arrangements for certain routes to planning permission

Further reading

Defra gudiance document: Sell biodiversity units as a land manager

Defra blog article: BNG: what’s happened and what’s coming next

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