BNG Plans in Cambridgeshire

Biodiversity net gain has emerged as a new form of planning regulations that will impact how developers approach land and property projects and planning applications. Along the road to pleasing Cambridgeshire County Council, demonstratable evidence of compliance with the policy will be needed in the form of a BNG plan.

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Local Biodiversity Net Gain Support

Ever since the Environment Act was brought into law back in November 2021, all policies within it were enforceable by the corresponding local planning authorities, including biodiversity net gain (BNG) – a planning policy created with the intention of improving the state of the natural environment following land and property development projects. Using the universal application of the rule, retention of biodiversity quality must be achieved before building on it by a further 10% increase.

A new part of planning regulations, BNG consists of two measurements: one that demonstrates a development site’s current value and another that indicates the development site’s expected value after the planning project has concluded. It would be the job of a suitably experienced ecologist to calculate both measurements, compare them, and work out what is needed to maintain the same level and extend it by an additional 10%.

Developers are not only urged to demonstrate adherence to the planning policy because of the effect it could have on the environment from the perspective of the local council but also because of the impact it will have on planning applications. From the mandatory rollout of BNG in February 2024, local authorities including Cambridgeshire County Council began insisting on implementation of the rule, and a lack of forethought will prevent a successful application for planning permission.

Cambridgeshire Nature and Wildlife

Despite being best known for the City of Cambridge, the county of Cambridgeshire is principally a rural location, helped by the presence of multiple Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSI). With a distinct intention to retain and enhance existing green areas across all districts of East Cambridgeshire, Fenland, Huntingdonshire, the City of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, the pledges of local councils across Greater Cambridge began coinciding with planning policy, such as holding a public consultation on biodiversity net gain and releasing a Biodiversity Supplementary Planning Document.

Joint efforts between South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridge City Council and other local authorities in the Greater Cambridge area made it possible to support native European protected species such as badgers, bats, great crested newts, otters and water voles in partnership with the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, and even contribute additional ecological enhancement than what’s required in support of the relevant national legislation. In fact, the supplementary planning document states that, where possible, the local council would enforce net gains of 20%, backed by the aims of Natural Cambridgeshire.

Surveys to Achieve Net Gains of Biodiversity

In order to meet the planning regulations surrounding biodiversity, a developer would benefit from reaching out to an ecological consultant for a biodiversity net gain plan. Containing up to date guidance that corresponds with the planning policy and measures contained in the document to demonstrate how the BNG requirements will be met on the development site, it will actively work to appease the local council and help to determine planning applications.

The main goal of a BNG plan is to formulate pre-development and post-development measurements of the site before comparing the two figures to successfully achieve BNG. A universal biodiversity metric will be used for both calculations, but with the first biodiversity value based on the current state of the site and the second biodiversity value based on the expected state of the site after the development works. Any clear deficit between the two measurements will then be easy to identify, which the ecological surveyor can eliminate and build on by the required 10% increase.

A full inspection of the development site will be needed for the pre-development measurement and further information will be needed from the developer in order to formulate an accurate representation of the site post-development. As existing ecological value will need to be retained and enhanced to meet the mandate, the ecologist will use a mitigation hierarchy to cater to present protected species of animals and plants, as well as any generally rare or valuable assets. With the land managed by the ecological consultant, they will then gauge potential methods of boosting ecological value through the introduction of other worthwhile components on the site.

Ecologists always aim to succeed in meeting the BNG requirement on-site, but if it simply isn’t possible to do so, they will be left with no choice but to purchase biodiversity units off-site, contributing to the aims of biodiversity net gain somewhere else in the country. Biodiversity net gain plans can then be passed on to the local planning authority of the local council, giving them all they need to grant a planning application on the site.

Book in a BNG Assessment

Our team of in-house ecological consultants hold the necessary training, experience and qualifications for overseeing ecological surveys, such as the inspections and practices needed to accomplish the BNG requirement. Every document we create is assembled with an equally high level of accuracy, attention to detail and quality, leaving no stone left unturned, meeting the needs of developers, and ticking the boxes held by local authorities in Cambridge City, East Cambridgeshire, Fenland, Huntingdonshire, Greater Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire.

On new developments involving building or renovation, we can offer up-to-date guidance on biodiversity net gain to support planning applications. Insisting on a cost-effective option for all clients, we price up our quotes based on each development site and project, and as such, get in touch through our contact page and give us further information about your development plans. We will then send you a free quote for a BNG plan, and together, we can guarantee complete conformity with your local council in the Greater Cambridge area.