The Chiltern Society has responded to a Government consultation on the implementation of Biodiversity Net Gain. This is the mechanism proposed under the Environment Act 2021 to ensure that when development takes place there is at least a 10% increase in the biodiversity value.
The scheme aims for this increase to be provided on site by measuring biodiversity before and after development using a set metric being developed nationally. The Society generally supports on site enhancements, but consider that a 20% increase should be considered in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, such as the Chilterns.
We are more concerned with proposals to compensate for biodiversity loss off site as it potentially provides a way for developers to buy out of their environmental responsibilities. Our main priority is that any harm to biodiversity in the Chilterns should be compensated for by biodiversity net gain in the Chilterns. Setting up a national trade in ‘biodiversity credits’ creates the prospect of harm in the Chilterns being compensated for anywhere in the country through financial payments. We believe there is a crucial role here for local authorities to develop local processes through the development of their Local Plan and/or Supplementary Planning Documents.
You can read our full response here.