Avoid Project Delays: Leading Experts in BNG

Learn more about how our ecologists can save you time and money on your land development projects across the UK through effective and insightful biodiversity net gain plans.

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Why choose us for your Biodiversity Net Gain needs?

Expertly undertaken, rapid assessments to achieve biodiversity net gain (BNG) for landowners and developers during planning projects on development sites are our top priority. From a combination of knowledge, experience and insight, our team are appropriately skilled at writing reports that include everything needed to earn planning permissions, and identifying great opportunities to improve and enhnace 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 policy requirement, ensure 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 assessments for landowners and developers – as well as for 10% net gain plans for gaining on and off-site credits – you’re in safe hands with BNG Plans.

Our 15 years of biodiversity 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 3.0 metric assessment. Through a combination of the two, our biodiversity net gain assessments will get your planning information organised while acting as a heads up in regards to the effect your scheme will have on the existing biodiversity units you have on site, as well as the potential impact 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 regards to preserving, protecting and conserving nature, habitats and valuable plants across the United Kingdom.

One of the primary policies within the act focused on biodiversity net gain. Also known as BNG, mandatory biodiversity net gain is a government response to climate change and destruction of flora and fauna in the country over several decades.

It applies to nearly every development proposal moving forward, enforced by the corresponding local planning authorities. 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, as well as all natural assets located within it.

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 3.0 will be used to determine the 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 BNG, the developer will then be required to build on the post-development score by a minimum of 10%, increasing the measurable net gains for biodiversity on the site, maintained for at least 30 years after the development is complete.

If, however, this is not possible on the site, they will need to offset the damages elsewhere by purchasing statutory biodiversity credits (also known as biodiversity units) – a method of contributing to the environmental management of biodiversity net gain as a whole to benefit other parts of the country if the net gain cannot be completed on the site.

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 BNG assessments and any other relevant surveys such as a protected species survey or habitat survey, an understanding of biodiversity metrics, conservation covenants, existing legislation such as the government announced Environment Act and Environment Bill before it, national policy sets, public bodies, local decision makers, Natural England, the British Standards Institute (BSI) and DEFRA, practical experience of utilising the mitigation hierarchy for making effective changes to the site, and qualifications that relate to land management of the natural environment.

The Purpose of BNG

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

The new Environment Bill first outlined BNG before gaining royal assent and becoming an integral part of law within the Environment Act 2021. It now stands as a part of UK law 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 is in place.

However, many local planning authorities 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 many local planning authorities, and in order to accept an application for planning permission, the local authority will need evidence that mandatory BNG has been considered.

Our Biodiversity Net Gain Services

In an effort to achieve BNG, 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 all current and future developments.

Our services cater to various needs to encourage developers, landowners and regulators with their project in a way that appeases UK law. Further details of the BNG services we provide are explained below:

What BNG 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 developer has identified land)

What BNG services do you provide for landowners?

Pre-Recognition of Credits

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

What BNG 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 BNG 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 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% 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 BNG.

Who are you?

Based in the town of Eastleigh, Hampshire (between Winchester and Southampton), we are a small ecological consultancy team of around 30 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. However, rest assured 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 BNG 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.

Educated with relevant degrees and additional qualifications that enhance their skillset, our team has an extensive understanding of enhancing habitats (particularly the act of habitat enhancement for irreplaceable habitats), operating on potentially sensitive areas (such as brownfield sites, ancient woodland and irreplaceable habitat sites), and an ability to create BNG reports specifically produced for advising on improving biodiversity to a measurably better state following the completion of development projects.

Each of our BNG specialists maintain an understanding of Local Nature Recovery Strategies, using the necessary tools designed for calculating biodiversity net gain, fulfilling duties to develop habitat creation, and implementing effective methods to deliver biodiversity net gain. A combination of these assets come 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.

Through these skills, each ecologist has the capability to undertake the process correctly, using the current biodiversity metric, 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 features of development projects in the first instance such as the finer details of the Environment Act, Environment Bill, Country Planning Act, 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 development projects, our ecologists have offered strong support to professionals 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 biodiversity net gain plan based on your site and project, it would be advisable to get in touch with us so we can 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 assessment of the plot of land to determine how you can avoid biodiversity loss, find ways of implementing BNG to a better state and, as a last resort, purchase BNG credits off-site if it isn’t possible 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 speak 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 a BNG assessment and deliver net gain.