East of England Nature and Wildlife
ClimateUK’s ‘A Summer of Climate Change Risks for the East of England‘ details the current state of the environment in the region. Unfortunately, there are several factors threatening biodiversity in the East of England. For instance, water scarcity has made the region the driest in the county, sea levels are continuing to rise, lowland beech woodland areas are declining, and around 250,000 properties are at risk of flooding.
Naturally, local authorities in the region want to counteract the degradation of the environment through effective initiatives. An impactful example, biodiversity net gain (BNG) aims to retain the current standard of the environment during land developments before increasing by 10% following completion of the planning project in question.
Although a part of UK legislation since November 2021, the BNG requirement is currently undergoing a two-year transition to allow both developers and local planning authorities to adjust to it. However, in preparation for it becoming the norm, many LPAs are already enforcing it. As the biodiversity net gain mandate will impact all of England – including the East of England counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk – developers would be advised to incorporate it into their project in case the local council are already operating within the rules of the planning policy.
Councils in the East of England
With application of the biodiversity net gain policy across the country, it is crucial that you ensure you are following the policy under the rules of the local council that hold jurisdiction over your development site. To help with understanding the corresponding local planning authority, all councils in the East of England region are listed below.
- Ampthill Town Council
- Arlesey Town Council
- Bedford Borough Council
- Biggleswade Town Council
- Central Bedfordshire Council
- Luton Borough Council
- Cambridge City Council
- Cambridgeshire County Council
- Fenland District Council
- East Cambridgeshire District Council
- Huntingdonshire District Council
- South Cambridgeshire District Council
- Basildon Council
- Braintree District Council
- Brentwood Borough Council
- Castle Point Borough Council
- Chelmsford City Council
- Colchester Borough Council
- Epping Forest District Council
- Essex County Council
- Harlow Council
- Maldon District Council
- Rochford District Council
- Tendring District Council
- Uttlesford District Council
- Broxbourne Borough Council
- Dacorum Borough Council
- East Hertfordshire District Council
- Hertfordshire County Council
- Hertsmere Borough Council
- North Hertfordshire District Council
- St Albans City and District Council
- Stevenage Borough Council
- Three Rivers District Council
- Watford Borough Council
- Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
- Breckland District Council
- Broadland District Council
- Great Yarmouth Borough Council
- King’s Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council
- Norfolk County Council
- North Norfolk District Council
- Norwich City Council
- South Norfolk District Council
- Babergh District Council
- East Suffolk Council
- Ipswich Borough Council
- Mid Suffolk District Council
- Suffolk County Council
- West Suffolk Council
The Biodiversity Net Gain Planning Policy
For biodiversity net gain to work, a biodiversity measurement is taken pre-development and a predicted biodiversity measurement is determined post-development based on the plans of the project. If the difference in value shows a net gain in biodiversity of 10% or above, the policy requirements have been met. If not, an ecologist will be required to find ways of meeting the criteria. Each measurement is taken using a universal biodiversity metric that quantifies the number, size and quality of ecological features on the site, equating to an overall score.
Over a two-year transition period, local councils and developers have time to become accustomed to strictly following the rules of the policy. Despite this, many local planning authorities across England are already only granting planning permission on the condition that their development plans show evidence that the concept of biodiversity net gain has been incorporated.
Methods of Operating within BNG
In 2021, the Environment Bill gained royal assent to become the Environment Act. Within it were multiple policies that focused on improving the quality of natural assets, with biodiversity net gain acting as one of the most pivotal. BNG is a significant step in the right direction towards the end goal of retaining and enhancing local biodiversity. But with the policy arriving into UK legislation so quickly, many developers and ecological consultancies are lacking in the necessary knowledge required to satisfy the criteria effectively.
Matters as important as biodiversity net gain will change the way developers approach planning projects and how local authorities decide whether to accept or reject applications for planning consent. As such, seeking advice from an ecologist that doesn’t have an extensive understanding of BNG can be damaging to any development, private or professional.
Instead, it would be wise to invest in the insight of our ecological consultants. Each ecological surveyor has experience of working with biodiversity net gain, qualifications in ecology, and a history of conducting numerous forms of ecological survey. With their help, you will be able to receive a biodiversity net gain plan with effective recommendations that will allow you to achieve the 10% net gain increase and earn a planning condition on the site.
Surveying Your Site for BNG
The decision to operate within the rules of biodiversity net gain will avoid any delays or issues that would arise from approaching a local authority that already enforce the policy unprepared. Our BNG plans and assessments give a licensed ecologist the opportunity to measure the biodiversity value on a site correctly before finding methods of meeting the planning requirement successfully. A BNG plan will then ease the local planning authority’s concerns on the development’s environmental impact, simplifying the process of achieving planning permission.
Using the number above or our useful quick quote form, you can speak to us and give our ecologists details of your site and project. Our administrative team will then be able to determine a price for your BNG plan and assessment, and provide you with a free quote. Assuming you are happy with the quote, we can then discuss a good time to carry out a visit to your site and undertake the BNG survey. With our help, we can guarantee that the net gain of biodiversity is met and support your application for a planning condition.