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UK Biodiversity Enhancement: A New Era for Infrastructure Development

In a landmark move towards sustainable development, the UK government has introduced the Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) regulations. Effective from 12th February 2024, these regulations mandate that new planning applications for major developments must demonstrate a net gain in biodiversity of at least 10%.

The BNG regulations are built on four key components:

  • Biodiversity gain hierarchy: Developers are urged to avoid adverse effects on on-site habitats. If unavoidable, they should mitigate such effects, enhance habitats, or create new ones on-site.

  • Biodiversity gain plan: This plan outlines the methodology for achieving BNG and must be approved before development commences.

  • BNG metric: A development must result in a higher biodiversity unit score post-development, measured by a statutory metric.

  • Ongoing management and maintenance obligations: BNG works must be managed and maintained for at least 30 years.

These regulations have far-reaching implications for infrastructure projects. All new road and housebuilding projects must now benefit nature, rather than damage it. If a woodland is destroyed by a road, for example, another needs to be recreated either on-site or elsewhere. This is a significant change to planning regulations and is seen as one of the world’s most ambitious schemes. These requirements have also been mirrored in contract requirements where these regulations do not apply explicitly in many organisations such as Network Rail.

Infrastructure projects will need to carefully consider their impact on biodiversity from the early stages of planning and design. The introduction of these regulations represents a shift towards a more sustainable and nature-positive approach to development.

This is a significant step towards integrating biodiversity considerations into the heart of infrastructure development, marking a new era for sustainable development in the UK.

Contact us if you need any advice on how this may affect your organisation or future projects.


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