Surrey Countryside Banstead Woods

Biodiversity Net Gain Update

It’s been a busy month for biodiversity net gain (BNG), the introduction of which has been delayed to January 2024 for major development schemes. Firstly, the Government has published a draft template for use by applicants of major development to show how they have met the requirement for BNG. This enables a condition on BNG that has been applied to a grant of planning permission to be approved (discharged).

Also this month, the High Court handed down their Judgment on a case which concerned the weight to be given to BNG in the planning balance. From January, it will be a legal requirement to achieve a biodiversity net gain of 10% for most developments, although small sites (less than 1 hectare) have a little longer to prepare (April 2024). Some Local Plans already contain policies requiring more than 10% to be achieved, so it will be important to understand at an early stage what is required and how this could be achieved.

In the meantime, for applications submitted before the legal requirement takes effect, any positive gain will exceed legal requirements and accordingly, should be afforded due weight in assessing whether permission should be granted or refused (the planning balance). The weight is likely to vary according to the scale of the benefit.

Image Source: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, GOV.UK (2023).