Press Releases

07 Feb 2024

BPF calls for a better resourced planning system to ensure the success of new biodiversity net gain regulations

With the introduction of mandatory biodiversity net gain (BNG) regulations in England only days away, the British Property Federation (BPF) is calling for a new long-term approach to resourcing the planning system to ensure that local authorities have the capacity and capability to deliver BNG effectively.

 

BNG is a way of creating and improving natural habitats. It aims to make sure that new developments have a measurably positive impact on biodiversity, compared to what was there before development.

 

BNG will be implemented through the planning system. A new mandatory planning condition will require developers to submit biodiversity gain plans, and secure approval, before new developments can commence. As part of this, developers will need to demonstrate that they will deliver biodiversity net gains of at least 10% and maintain this for 30 years or more. These gains can be delivered on-site, off-site, by purchasing BNG credits from Natural England, or by a combination of these.

 

The BPF is concerned that current levels of resource, capacity and skills within local authorities are not ready to deal with the introduction of BNG. Research published by the Government suggests that only 5% of local planning authorities feel their current ecological resource is adequate to scrutinise all applications that might affect biodiversity and less than 10% feel that their expertise and resources will be adequate to deliver BNG.

 

The BPF 2024 Election Manifesto “Building our Future” is calling for reform of the planning system to ensure the property sector can deliver its climate change ambitions. This includes a new approach to resourcing which would involve more Government investment into local authority planning departments, higher fees paid by applicants in return for a better service and the creation of central talent pools to ensure a more agile and timely response to major applications.

 

Rob Wall, Assistant Director at the British Property Federation said:

 

“The property sector has a huge role to play in protecting and restoring nature, and many developers are already delivering biodiversity net gain (BNG) across their existing assets and new developments.”

 

“The new mandatory BNG regulations will place an additional burden on already over-stretched local authority planning departments. This is why we are calling on Government to set out a new long-term strategy for resourcing the planning system to ensure that planning departments have the capacity and capability to deliver on all fronts including on BNG.”

 

“We will also be closely monitoring the implementation of BNG to understand the impact on development. This will include looking at local authorities’ approach to allowing BNG offsite and to going beyond the 10% BNG minimum and monitoring how the market in BNG units is developing.”

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