BNG Plans in Cheshire

Operating throughout Halton, Warrington, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, our biodiversity net gain team are able to address priority habitats on your site in the Cheshire area and evaluate ecological networks by putting together an invaluable BNG plan.

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Making Biodiversity Net Gain a Part of Planning

One of multiple legislation policy requirements within the Environment Act 2021, biodiversity net gain refers to a principle that aims to protect and enhance the nearby environment for priority species and protected sites. From April 2024, the planning policy was no longer optional and local planning authorities all over the country began insisting on compliance with it during all applicable land and property development projects.

The aim of BNG is to ensure that developers follow a principle whereby development leaves biodiversity in a measurably better state after the planning project compared to before. Net gain calculations need to be recorded to outline the value currently present beforehand, as well as a second reading that will be predicted based on the expected eventual state of the development site. It will be possible to deliver biodiversity net gain by removing any gap between the two numbers and increasing by a further 10%.

Although developers could opt to ignore the concept alongside the local plan and other policies at first glance, it cannot be avoided and putting it off will only delay and harm the process of obtaining planning applications. In the Cheshire area specifically, the local councils that will need to be appeased in order to progress developments impacted by BNG include Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Halton Borough Council and Warrington Borough Council.

Countryside Locations Around the County

Through an abundance of countryside surrounding the numerous towns and villages, Cheshire is classed as being a primarily rural county. Of the largest settlements by population are Warrington, Chester, Crewe, Runcorn, Widnes and Ellesmere Port, and more of the untouched land is continuing to be utilised for building upon the growth of the county.

In addition to this, 420 sites of local importance and 33 sites of special scientific interest (SSSI) are present, and over 15,000 hectares of Cheshire is covered by an estimated 1,000 local wildlife sites. Many different protected priority species of animals and plants are in circulation across Cheshire, including badgers, barn owls, bats, black-necked grebe, great crested newts and water voles.

All of the species and habitats with protected priority are defended in the county by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust. Efforts to retain and enhance ecological networks and geological sites in predominantly rural counties is vital in the eyes of the local authorities, leaving developers with no choice but to refer to a biodiversity net gain plan in order to navigate through the policy.

Examining Risk to Biodiversity Value

Via an ecological assessment and a research study into the site prior to the physical inspection, an ecologist will be able to begin the process of creating a BNG plan. By evaluating all the natural assets present and submitting them to the biodiversity metric, it will be clear to see the existing value of the site. Improving the value to a better state than was currently beforehand can then be done by anticipating the likely condition after the development is complete.

Comparing the two results, the ecological consultant can work out how many biodiversity units need to be added to meet the biodiversity net gain mandate. At this point, a mitigation hierarchy will be used to distinguish suitable next steps, with a view to protecting priority habitats and any protected sites covered by other legislation. If any losses are unavoidable, compensation will see the ecological surveyor making up for it by planting new habitats to increase the biodiversity value.

An alternative route would be to refer to biodiversity offsetting. The term generally relates to habitats being created elsewhere to account for the failure to achieve BNG on the affected site. With all effective decisions made and long-term measures chosen, the final step is to create a biodiversity net gain plan for the developer. Containing extensive further information about the site, it can be passed on to the local planning authority to support the planning application.

Communicate with Our Team

Our BNG consultants span across Cheshire East, Cheshire West, Halton and Warrington, as well as practically any other part of the country. Over the time we’ve spent developing our team and growing our knowledge, we have become experts when it comes to biodiversity net gain and all matters relating to the policy and broader ecology, from ecological networks to protected priority species and from the Environment Act to the local plan of the corresponding location.

Each quote we provide is bespoke based on the unique specifications of a client’s site and project. With this in mind, if you need help with biodiversity net gain on your Cheshire development site, we would advise speaking to our team first to see how much it would cost. Complete an online quote form, call us or email us, and we will pass on a free quote for you to consider. We can then work together to find a time to conduct a biodiversity net gain assessment, produce a plan and help you satisfy the mandate and come away with a successful planning application.