Environmental net gain, a step towards legislation

On 23 July 2019, Defra and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published their response to the 2018 Consultation on proposals for a mandatory bidoversity net gain for housing and commercial development in England.

The key point is that the government has decided to include provisions for a mandatory 10% net gain of 'biodiversity units' for all new development under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 that result in a loss of habitat, in the Environmental (Principles and Governance Bill) due to be laid before parliament in October 2019.

Those with a keen interest in political procedure may be aware that we are due to leave the European Union on 31st October, with some matters relating to the departure still unresolved. Whether there is any time to debate anything else between now and Christmas, will remain to be seen.

Other points to note:

  • the legislation will contain a number of narrow exemptions (e.g. residential self-build) and the government will seek to ensure that house building is now slowed as a result. Sites with no biodiversity to start with will not have to provide compensation, but may need to provide 'green infrastructure'
  • there will no 'tariff' (as originally proposed), but the scheme will provide a supply of statutory biodiversity units into the compensation market. How this will work is yet to be fully expounded.
Posted on: 08/08/2019

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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