Biodiversity net gain (BNG) is mandatory from 12 February 2024 and this new legislation is the biggest change to planning regulations in decades. This new law is part of the government’s Environment Act to make sure wildlife habitats are left in a better state than before development, and in doing so make a significant contribution to nature’s recovery.
Developers must deliver at least 10% BNG, unless exempt, however individual local planning authorities may request a higher net gain target.
BNG for small sites will become mandatory from 2 April 2024, this includes:
- Residential developments – Between 1-9 dwellings proposed, or <0.5ha in total.
- Commercial developments – <1000m2 of commercial floorspace created, or <1ha total size.
BNG for nationally significant infrastructure projects will become mandatory from November 2025.
BNG can be achieved either on-site or off-site, or as a last resort by buying statutory biodiversity credits. For significant on-site gains, and all off-site gains, habitats created or enhanced must be maintained for a minimum of 30 years.
BNG is additional to existing habitat and species protections. Intended to reinforce the mitigation hierarchy, BNG aims to create new habitats as well as enhance existing habitats, ensuring the ecological connectivity they provide for wildlife is retained and improved. This is a major step towards a nature recovery and will play part in enhancing the places where people live and work.