Avoid Project Delays: Leading Experts in BNG

Learn more about how our ecologists can improve biodiversity and delivery BNG in land developments, saving you time and money in the process. With experience of initiating environmental benefits, advanced ecology and other areas that are relevant to the planning policy, our effective and insightful biodiversity net gain plans will meet the minimum requirement and the needs of your local planning authority.

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Why Choose Us for Your Biodiversity Net Gain Needs?

Expertly undertaken rapid assessments to achieve mandatory biodiversity net gain (BNG) for landowners and developers during planning projects on development sites are our top priority. From a combination of extensive experience, knowledge and insight, our team is appropriately skilled at writing reports that include everything needed to earn planning permissions and identify great opportunities to improve and enhance biodiversity through initiating measurable improvements.

Although the concept of biodiversity net gain is relatively new, we are already ahead of the game and possess all of the necessary knowledge required to meet the biodiversity net gain policy requirement, ensure that the development site is in a measurably better state of biodiversity post-development, and give your local planning authority all they need to grant planning consent.

As Britain’s leading provider of biodiversity net gain assessments and biodiversity net gain plans for landowners and developers, you’re in safe hands with BNG Plans. Our enormous wealth of ecology survey and general ecological expertise means that during the planning process of any development, we can kill two birds with one stone by combining our Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) with a DEFRA 4.0 metric assessment.

Through a combination of the two, our biodiversity assessments will get your planning permission criteria and other necessary further information organised while acting as a heads-up in regards to the negative impacts your scheme will have on the existing biodiversity units you have on site, as well as the potential impact and biodiversity losses from other factors in the process such as water and air quality.

Here’s what a recent client in Kent had to say on Trust Pilot about one of our ecologist’s biodiversity surveys and net gain plan services:

Introduction to Biodiversity Net Gain

In November 2021, the Environment Bill underwent royal assent and transformed into the Environment Act – a now applicable policy that includes several core terms in regard to preserving, protecting and conserving nature, wildlife habitats and valuable plants across the United Kingdom. One of the primary planning policies within the act focused on biodiversity net gain. Also known as BNG, mandatory biodiversity net gain is a UK government response to climate change and the destruction of flora and fauna in the country over several decades.

It applies to nearly every new development proposal moving forward, enforced by the corresponding local planning authorities. Even though it is only mandatory to deliver net gain of biodiversity from February 2024 (previously November 2023 and January 2024 until the government announced delays), planning departments within local councils were given the option of enforcing biodiversity net gain ever since it was first introduced in 2021 and ample funding from the government, and even so, anyone looking to develop land at any level should start thinking about the policy in case it affects them.

Different Metrics for Biodiversity

Prior to a development project, the site will possess a certain pre-development biodiversity value based on the state and condition of the specific plot of land, its existing strategic significance and its ecological importance locally. The BNG metrics will also incorporate all of the natural habitats located within the site, using the following factors to determine the potential local importance of the habitat site:

  • Habitat types
  • The habitat’s distinctiveness
  • The habitat’s size
  • Whether or not they are classed as priority habitats

Between an understanding of the unavoidable changes being made to the land as a result of the project – such as animal habitats and plant life obstructing access or greenfield land suffering damage to pave the way for new infrastructure, for example – and the specifications of the project and how that could impact the land on a short or long-term basis, the DEFRA biodiversity metric 4.0 will be used to determine the overall biodiversity value of the site.

Using this score, an ecologist can develop pragmatic solutions to ensure that it will return to the same score post-development. Under the rules of biodiversity net gain, the developer will then be required to build on the post-development score by a minimum of at least 10%, increasing the measurable net gains for biodiversity on the site, maintained for at least 30 years after the development is complete.

The Option of Offsite Compensation

If, however, it is not possible to achieve an increase in biodiversity on the site, the developer through the ecologist will need to offset the damages elsewhere by purchasing statutory biodiversity credits, based on biodiversity units that cannot be used on the site under the prices outlined by gov.uk. Every potentially rare or valuable element on the site such as ancient woodland, blanket bog, limestone pavement, lowland fen, salt marsh, sand dunes, veteran trees and protected species of animals and plants will be recorded and – using the current biodiversity metrics – assign each habitat with a biodiversity unit value.

The ecologist can then ensure that the project increases biodiversity net gain elsewhere in the country by purchasing biodiversity credits of the same biodiversity value from an external landowner. A method of contributing to the environmental management of biodiversity net gain as a whole, biodiversity offsetting enables off-site compensation, reversing environmental impact and net loss of biodiversity by supplying biodiversity gains elsewhere, benefitting other parts of the country if the net gain cannot be completed on the site.

Support for Local Planning Authorities

As development projects can consist of many different considerations and include the input of various key stakeholders, an ecologist carrying out a biodiversity net gain assessment must possess disciplines in a number of areas.

This includes:

  • British standard qualifications for conducting biodiversity net gain assessments and any other relevant surveys such as a protected species survey or habitat survey.
  • Qualifications that relate to land management of the natural environment.
  • An in-depth understanding of biodiversity metrics, conservation covenants, existing legislation such as the government-announced Environment Act and Environment Bill before it, national policy sets, local plans, and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
  • An awareness of the role and purpose of public bodies, local decision-makers, Natural England / Natural Resources Wales (for England and Wales), the British Standards Institute (BSI), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), and other organisations.
  • Adherence to reliable and trustworthy guidance, such as gov.uk‘s advisable actions.
  • Practical experience in utilising the mitigation hierarchy for making effective changes to the site.

The Purpose of BNG

As far back as 2019 during the government’s unveiling of the concept in the spring statement, biodiversity net gain (BNG) has stood as a piece of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that would enable development plans to continue as normal, but with an emphasis on preserving the natural environment.

The new Environment Bill first outlined biodiversity net gain before gaining royal assent and becoming an integral part of UK law within the Environment Act 2021. It now stands as applicable new legislation and should be followed as such. But as the government are fully aware that it is a significant change for many developers, anyone else in charge of infrastructure projects and the planning industry as a whole, a two-year transition period was put in place until November 2023 before being extended to January 2024 and then February 2024.

Many local planning authorities, however, are already seeing the planning condition as an existing component in the planning system. As such, delivering biodiversity net gain is already an active planning obligation in the eyes of countless local councils, and in order to accept a planning application, the local authority will need evidence that mandatory BNG has been considered.

an ecologist conducting a biodiversity net gain assessment before creating a BNG plan

Our Biodiversity Net Gain Services

In an effort to achieve biodiversity net gain, operate within the planning policy and appease the local authority, it would be wise to reach out to a qualified, trusted and experienced ecological consultancy for new guidance and expert advice on all current and future developments.

Our services cater to various needs and operate on a case-by-case basis to encourage developers, land owners and regulators with their projects in the same way to appease UK law. Further details of the BNG services we provide are explained below:

What Biodiversity Net Gain services do you provide for developers?

Pre-Planning Determination

  • Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) and associated ecological surveys
  • DEFRA metric assessments and calculations for extant biodiversity units

Discharge of Planning Conditions

  • On-site 10% biodiversity net gain plans

Release from Section 106 agreements

  • Off-site net gain plans (where a developer has identified a worthwhile opportunity for developing land)

What Biodiversity Net Gain services do you provide for landowners?

Pre-Recognition of Credits

  • DEFRA metric assessments and calculations for extant biodiversity units
  • 30-year plans for 10% increase of biodiversity net gain

What Biodiversity Net Gain services do you provide for regulators?

Net Gain Plan Audits

  • Checking and reporting to local authorities and regulators on the progress of ecological management plans against the legal agreement and management plan

Is Biodiversity Net Gain all you do?

Our team of professional ecologists undertake all types of habitat and protected species surveys around the UK. However, here at BNG Plans, our primary raison d’etre is:

  1. To help landowners create relative value in their poorly performing holdings by designing net gain plans that can be packaged to generate income from the burgeoning market for off-site 10% minimum requirement gain; and
  2. To help developers and planning professionals maximise opportunities for on-site biodiversity net gain, and therefore minimise the need to incur the costs and delays associated with biodiversity net gain.

Who Are You?

Based in the town of Eastleigh in Hampshire between Winchester and Southampton, we are an ecological consultancy team of ecologists and land survey specialists, operating around the UK under a home and office-based model. We also employ the occasional services of selected subcontractors for certain types of ecological assessment, and occasionally to assist with very large DEFRA metric surveys on estates and farms. Rest assured, however, that we hold a strict policy to never deploy a subcontractor to your project without our direct supervision.

With our help, we have offered detailed guidance to support professionals making planning decisions across the UK, providing vital insight into biodiversity credits, biodiversity value, the mitigation hierarchy and methods to calculate biodiversity net gain in the form of an impactful biodiversity net gain assessment. We will then produce a thorough BNG report that can be submitted to the local planning authority as part of the application for planning permission, acting as proof that a qualified ecologist has surveyed the site and mitigated accordingly.

Our Team

Once you have booked a biodiversity net gain plan through us, you will be given an ecologist with experience in a wide variety of planning proposals in terms of size and scale, ranging from small, independent land developments to large, nationally significant infrastructure projects.

Each of our BNG specialists maintains an understanding of Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS), using the necessary tools designed for calculating biodiversity net gain, fulfilling duties to develop new habitat creation, and implementing effective methods to deliver biodiversity net gain. A combination of these assets comes together to form an ecologist capable of giving you the insight and expertise you need, and writing reports with everything the local planning authority will expect for successfully delivering BNG on your site.

Qualified, Licensed and Trained BNG Experts

Educated with relevant degrees and additional qualifications that enhance their skill set, our team has an extensive understanding of enhancing habitats including the vital habitat enhancement for irreplaceable habitats and creation of new habitats, operating on potentially sensitive areas such as brownfield sites, ancient woodland and irreplaceable habitat sites, and an ability to create biodiversity net gain reports specifically produced for advising on meeting an increase in biodiversity following the completion of development plans.

Through these skills, each ecologist has the capability to undertake the process correctly and provide biodiversity net gain guidance, using the current biodiversity metric and other metrics if applicable (such as for small sites), within the rules of each responsible body, and with a minimum duration of at least 30 years. Despite being a relatively new consideration, our ecologists are also knowledgeable about corresponding ecological features of development projects in the first instance such as the finer details of the Environment Act / Environment Bill, the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the Nature Recovery Network, and the use of a conservation covenant by landowners with protections in place.

Our Clients

Ever since local planning authorities began to demand that developers consider biodiversity gain as part of their planning process and looked to mandate net gains following the proposed development, our ecologists have offered strong support to professional and private developers involved in developments on bigger and smaller development sites across the country.

The net gain requirement affects a multitude of industries, so we have worked with an array of clients consisting of businesses conducting residential or commercial projects and members of the general public carrying out private projects. As you can see from the review above, our biodiversity net gain approach and services have been effective in satisfying clients, and we are always open to discussing the possibility of helping you with delivering net gain on your site, regardless of the purpose.

Ready for a Quote?

If you want an accurate quote for a BNG plan based on your site and project, it would be advisable to get in touch with us so we can harness an understanding of the full picture of your development site at first glance and quantify an estimate directly determined by your specifications.

We can then gauge the level of biodiversity present on your site pre-development before using expert analysis and a thorough biodiversity net gain assessment of the plot of land and planned development work to determine how you can avoid biodiversity loss, find ways of implementing BNG, make the necessary biodiversity improvements, initiate necessary habitat creation and – as a last resort – purchase biodiversity net gain credits off-site if it isn’t possible to preserve all existing natural assets.

To speak to us, simply call us on the number above, fill out the quote form at the top of this page or visit our contact page to see our other communication options. You can then talk to one of our team directly, give us details of your situation and arrange an appropriate date and time for us to visit your site, conduct an assessment, measure biodiversity, deliver BNG and successfully achieve biodiversity net gain.