Biodiversity Net Gain was a key pillar of the Environment Act 2021. It means that from November 2023 all new developments in England will be required to leave biodiversity in a measurably better state than before. It should be one of the Government’s main tools for reducing the impact of development on nature.
However, delays in publishing the response to the Consultation on Biodiversity Net Gain Regulations and Implementation, which closed on 5 April 2022, means we are without the detail on how the policy will be implemented. This leaves developers, NGOs, ecologists and others essential to delivering this policy with less time to prepare and make it a success for nature. This weakens the ability of Biodiversity Net Gain to help meet the Environment Act targets, increase access to nature, and make England more resilient to climate change by putting blue and green infrastructure where people live and work.
It has also become clear that some stakeholders, including some developers, have been pushing for Biodiversity Net Gain to be weaker than is needed to restore nature and reach the Government’s biodiversity goals. With COP15 underlining the urgency of restoring nature in the UK to meet 2030 restoration targets, now is not the time to weaken key measures like Biodiversity Net Gain but strengthen them. This means:
Biodiversity net gain has the potential to help restore nature and meet the Government’s nature restoration targets, as well as deliver billions in ecosystem services. However, this will only be achieved if the policy is implemented on time and with effective regulations.
Tom Ash is Policy and Advocacy Officer at Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust
The opinions expressed in this blog are the authors' and not necessarily those of the wider Link membership.
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