The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) defines Biodiversity Net Gain as:
"an approach to development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before."
To achieve net gain, a project must incorporate a measurable increase in natural habitat over and above what is lost.
Once the new Environment Bill becomes law, it will be mandatory for developments to achieve a minimum of 10% net gain. However, some councils and infrastructure organisations are already requiring this.
It is also proposed that all habitats created or enhanced will need to be maintained at that level for at least 30 years.
Addressing biodiversity loss
Biodiversity is declining in the UK despite updates to policy over recent years. The National Biodiversity Network’s State of Nature 2019 report outlines a 13% decrease in the abundance of species between 1970 and 2016.
For a project to address its environmental impact, it should follow this mitigation hierarchy strategy:
- Avoidance – avoid any impact if possible. Examples include finding an alternative site, retaining habitat features, or changing work timings. This is the most preferred option.
- Mitigation – take action to minimise any impacts of the works.
- Offset – compensate for impacts. This should be a last resort.
Biodiversity itself is difficult to measure. Established metrics enable us to calculate the impact of a development.
We have worked with all the available biodiversity-offsetting metrics, including the current Defra metric - Natural England Beta 2.0, that will become the industry standard.
Assessing Biodiversity Net Gain
By involving us early in the project design process, we can help you find ways to achieve the most appropriate outcomes for flora and fauna. Our landscape team can assist with designing landscape plans for your development.
Our CIEEM accredited ecologists can carry out a baseline survey and habitat-condition assessment to feed into a Biodiversity Net Gain report. This can be done alongside a preliminary ecological appraisal for the proposed development.
With the baseline survey, our in-house geographic information system (GIS) team can create accurate area measurements of the habitat. We use landscape plans to measure the post-development habitat.
This pre-development and post-development information is fed into the biodiversity metric to find out the percentage of Biodiversity Net Gain.
If it is not possible to achieve Biodiversity Net Gain on-site
If it is not possible to deliver habitat creation or enhancements locally, it is likely additional habitat gains will need to be found elsewhere. We can assist in sourcing a suitable off-site location and find a biodiversity-offsetting solution if net gain is not possible on site.
Implementation and long term maintenance
The RSK Habitat Management team can help you with the implementation and long-term management of the biodiversity recommendations to ensure successful on-site habitat creation and management.
Contact James Simpson to discuss your requirements.