BNG Plans in Essex

The BNG requirements apply in Essex, and with that, developers will need to speak to us about a biodiversity net gain plan or risk delays, penalties and issues with planning applications.

Get a Quick Quote

Step 1 of 3

Same Day Quotes
Planning Permission Focused
Simple, Hassle-free Service

Biodiversity Net Gain Targets in the Area

An incentive designed to enhance biodiversity to a measurably better state for a minimum period of 30 years, biodiversity net gain (BNG) became a mandatory part of planning in February 2024, with further framework for different types of development in April 2024. It stems from efforts to encourage green infrastructure and sustainable development in a large percentage of minor and major developments and infrastructure projects, specifically ordering developers to improve the biodiversity value of a site by at least 10% post-development compared to pre-development.

Alongside Essex County Council, other local authorities monitoring developments across the area include Basildon Council, Braintree District Council, Brentwood Borough Council, Castle Point Borough Council, Chelmsford City Council, Colchester City Council, Epping Forest District Council, Harlow Council, Maldon District Council, Rochford District Council, Southend City Council, Tendring District Council, Thurrock Council and Uttlesford District Council.

Meeting the BNG requirements is perfectly feasible, but only by referring to an ecological consultant to lead the development works with insightful and expert guidance. The ecologist can then determine whether it is possible for the planning policy to be achieved on-site or off-site, and from there, put together effective measures to move forward. Such help will avoid any potential issues with all applicable planning conditions.

Essex’s Rural Areas and Green Spaces

Despite being best known for the towns and cities of Basildon, Brentwood, Chelmsford, Clacton-on-Sea, Colchester and Harlow, Essex itself is in fact largely rural, equating to around 72%. As many as 1,600 local wildlife sites are in the county, as well as 86 sites of special scientific interest (SSSI). It also has numerous rural attractions, including Audley End, Bridge End, Easton Lodge and RHS Garden Hyde Hall.

Based on the selection of green spaces to navigate, a number of protected species populate Essex, such as badgers, barn owls, bats, breeding and wintering birds, dormice, otters, reptiles, water voles and white-clawed crayfish. Measures designed to conserve, preserve and protect each species and their existing habitat is available from the Essex Wildlife Trust, and their jurisdiction intersects with development.

Not only does the wildlife trust of a given area impact any issues affecting ecology but also the local nature recovery strategies (LNRS), the local planning authorities, and specifically in Essex, the Essex Local Nature Partnership. It can feel like a lot of obstacles for developers to deal with, but finding success in accomplishing BNG can realistically be attainable by obtaining a biodiversity net gain plan from a qualified ecologist.

Comparing Pre and Post-Development Biodiversity

Delivering Essex biodiversity net gain is the same process in any other part of the country, requiring a BNG assessment to analyse all present existing habitats and ecological networks. Detailed information about the site can be recovered beforehand, but during a physical inspection, all habitats will be indexed and given a value. Results will be recorded as biodiversity units, acting as an indication of the figure needed to satisfy mandatory BNG.

Any gap between the two readings will need to be eliminated and an additional 10% net gain will need to be achieved. A crucial aspect of this process will be using land management and habitat management techniques to work out how to alter the development to show consideration to valuable ecological assets and utilising the mitigation hierarchy to help with retaining, relocating or destroying and compensating for natural features.

If efforts to increase biodiversity on the specific site area won’t suffice, a last-resort option is available in the form of biodiversity offsetting. Instead of initiating on-site changes such as any exercise to create wildlife habitats that will increase biodiversity value, offsetting allows for buying credits away from the development site to grow the standard of new habitat elsewhere. That way, the natural environment will benefit – just not on the developer’s site.

Whatever the outcome of the BNG assessment – whether it involves habitat creation, enhancement of existing elements or net gain off-site – it will result in the ecological surveyor producing a biodiversity gain plan and report. It is made up of two parts, including a section for listing results from the inspection and a section for explaining how the mandatory requirement will be met. The document is then ready to be sent to the local authority, playing a role in backing up the planning application.

Request a Quote From Us

Working on anything from minor to major developments, our team has seen it all when it comes to obstacles preventing a project from meeting the biodiversity net gain mandate. In any new developments where biodiversity gain applies, we can implement green infrastructure and sustainable development techniques, introduce new habitats and enhance any existing habitat to reach the necessary increase for the expected minimum period of at least 30 years.

By following the guidance of DEFRA, CIEEM, Natural England and any other relevant regulators, we guarantee the utmost quality in all of the work we do. Once you’ve completed a contact form online, called us directly, emailed us or considered the options on our contact page, we will be in touch with you to help with initiating on-site or off-site changes. After a thorough assessment of your Essex site, you will have everything you need to appease biodiversity net gain and support planning applications.