Biodiversity Net Gain Offsetting Site
- What is the mechanism?
An emerging mechanism. Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is an approach to development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before.
A minimum of 10% BNG is to be a mandatory requirement of planning permission via the forthcoming Environment Act.
In addition, the South Downs Local Plan requires development to identify and incorporate BNG in line with Policy SD9, such that net gains for biodiversity is a requirement in the National Park now.
Biodiversity net gain should be measurable as demonstrated by the DEFRA Metric.
Delivery is expected within the development site in the first instance. Where this cannot be achieved on site, developers may purchase credits for a BNG offsetting site.
These credits may be paid to land managers who are undertaking conservation activities which provide measurable biodiversity benefits to their existing land use, to both compensate for any losses elsewhere and provide the level of net gain.
- Site location
Sites for BNG offsetting are sought across the South Downs National Park, with preference for the following;
a. Sites that have the potential to buffer or expand existing habitats. For example, connecting woodland blocks, buffering ancient woodland and species rich grassland creation.
b. Sites for BNG offsetting that are in the same general area as the development
c. Sites located in strategic areas identified as important for wildlife e.g. Biodiversity Opportunity Areas, People & Nature Network, forthcoming Local Nature Recovery Strategies.
- Site size
No minimum or maximum site area.
- Current land use
All except private gardens or sites already designated for wildlife value i.e. SSSI, Local Wildlife Site
- Landscape considerations
Any habitat created needs to be consistent with the landscape character in order to achieve the best outcomes for biodiversity.
The management approach should also work with soil conditions and the underlying geology.
The SDNPA has prepared guidance to summarise the different landscape character types, the actions that can be taken for nature or to be more nature friendly and the key sensitivities to consider in the area.
- Management duration
- Management options
BNG offsetting can be achieved through a wide range of management options to restore / improve existing habitats or to create new habitat.