Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is an approach which means land development must be in a better state than it was found. BNG aims for the conservation of natural habitats and ecosystems alongside land development. 

As part of the Environment Act 2021, the Government designed the BNG policy to ensure that developers play their part in protecting the natural environment. The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) set out the legislation. However, the changing of BNG deadlines has left the market with a degree of uncertainty.  

The original deadline for BNG implementation for most development was November 2023; developers must outline their proposals to reach a minimum of 10% BNG in their planning applications to local planning authorities (LPAs). For smaller sites, this requirement would apply from April 2024 onwards. Yesterday evening, the Government announced these plans would now be in place from January 2024 onwards. Deadlines for small sites would remain for April 2024.

Where BNG cannot be achieved on-site, BNG habitat banks provide off-site Biodiversity Net Gain Units. As one of the leading habitat banks, Legacy Habitat Banks Ltd. provides BNG units for developers to fulfil their BNG requirements. 

It was clear yesterday that many BNG stakeholders have been hard at work to meet the original November 2023 deadline in the face of uncertainty and lack of guidance from Defra.

Ricardo Gutierrez-Inostroza

Director, Legacy Habitat Banks

Speaking to Ricardo Gutierrez-Inostroza here at Legacy Habitat Banks, he said that it is “warming to see so many organisations acknowledge the importance of protecting our biodiversity and putting significant effort, resource, and capital into ensuring they are as prepared as possible for the original implementation date. The general response to an unspecified delay in BNG timescales was concern for further uncertainty and the potential damage this could have on biodiversity.”

Thankfully, the uncertainty was short-lived, with Defra and the Minister for Biodiversity confirming the updated timeframe for BNG implementation, now from January 2024. Arguably striking a balance between smoothing the transition to mandatory BNG without pushing the deadline so far into 2024 as to reduce the already vital impact for biodiversity protection.

Despite changes to when we can expect BNG to be required, BNG will continue to grow as a critical element in the UK’s response to climate change. This delay will potentially provide an opportunity for the mechanisms and tools to fulfil BNG requirements to develop and more habitat banks to come to the market. We hope that this change to the deadline will yield positive outcomes within the market, giving developers and landowners adequate time to get ready to deliver BNG.

Find out More

Developers in England will be required to deliver 10% “Biodiversity Net Gain” from January 2024 onwards.

GOV.UK: Biodiversity Net Gain moves step closer with timetable set out.