BNG Plans in Hertfordshire

By referring to our team, you can ensure that your development in Hertfordshire remains within the parameters of biodiversity net gain, avoiding any delays, bypassing any issues and bolstering your planning application.

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Working with Biodiversity Net Gain

The aim of the Environment Act 2021 was to introduce multiple policies that conserve, preserve and protect the natural environment. It took a lengthy period of time for biodiversity net gain (BNG) to become a mandatory consideration for developers, but with the universal rollout in February 2024 and an alternative version for small sites in April 2024, it is now a planning policy with an unavoidable effect on all stages of the process.

Applicable to almost all new developments moving forward, BNG requires an ecologist to measure the biodiversity value pre-development and post-development and ensure that the level improves to a measurably better state of 10% and lasts for at least 30 years. The county of Hertfordshire is affected just like any other part of the country, meaning developers need to adhere to the rules or run the risk of penalties, delays and issues with obtaining planning consent.

Local authorities include Broxbourne Borough Council, Dacourum Borough Council, East Herts 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, and of course, Hertfordshire County Council. Providing an ecological consultant has been instructed to assist, it should be more than viable to satisfy any of the above local councils.

Ecological Elements Across the County

Although classed as urban due to the presence of built-up areas such as Bishop’s Stortford, Cheshunt, Hemel Hempstead, Hoddesdon, St Albans, Stevenage, Watford and Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire has plenty of rural locations. For example, many of the attractions are set in the countryside, such as Leavesden Country Park and local nature reserves in Chorleywood House Estate, Broxley Common Moor and Withey Beds.

More than 1,800 local wildlife sites appear in Hertfordshire, as well as 43 sites of special scientific interest (SSSI). As for protected animals and plants, around 1,446 species are in circulation across the county, with adequate protection offered by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. Developers not only need to work with the regulations of the local wildlife trust, but also the local nature recovery strategies, primary and secondary legislation, and conservation covenants. A biodiversity net gain plan will be crucial to meeting the rules of the policy and addressing all ecological elements.

Delivering the BNG Requirements

All developments will be approached in the same way to meet the biodiversity net gain requirements, from a householder development project to residential or commercial developments. An assessment of the development site will be undertaken, with an ecological survey looking over all existing habitats and recording them to understand the current condition of the area. A second figure estimating the condition of the area after the development will then be conceptualised using detailed information from the plans.

DEFRA are in charge of providing a biodiversity metric, and with it, BNG consultants can calculate the value of a site. The pre-development and post-development figures will then be set next to each other to determine what needs to be done to align them and increase by 10%. It may be the case that retaining priority habitat or creating more natural assets on the site isn’t possible, and when this happens, a last resort option will be to purchase statutory credits from a landowner off-site to satisfy BNG elsewhere.

Assuming the changes to achieve mandatory BNG can be done within the site area, a mitigation hierarchy will be utilised to choose the most suitable method. A prior desk study to uncover further information about the site could also help with this, potentially uncovering other ways of increasing the value by 10%. A biodiversity gain plan will then explain the outcome of the assessment such as the needed biodiversity units and more detail on how to meet the mandatory requirement.

As soon as it has been passed on to the developer, the BNG Plan can be forwarded to the planning officer from the local planning authority. The Environment Act sets out clearly how biodiversity net gain should be completed and sustained for a minimum period of 30 years. Once the plan is passed on to the corresponding local planning authorities, it will be able to help with meeting each applicable planning condition and contribute to seeing planning permissions granted.

Consult Our Expert Team

Since the original announcement of biodiversity net gain, we’ve kept a finger on the pulse of the policy, noting any changes and developments as and when they’ve emerged. Such a focus on it has made us experts in creating a biodiversity gain plan and report of a site area to anticipate current and predicted biodiversity value, successfully delivering BNG to the standard expected by the local authorities, and leaving the local council with no reason to deny planning applications.

Working on anything from small sites to large-scale commercial developments, our team can handle any issue relating to biodiversity net gain in conjunction with a planning project. Once we’ve established a date and time to conduct a BNG assessment on your site, we will be able to index all ecological features, submit them into the biodiversity metric and work out how best to retain the current value before increasing by a further 10%.

Contact our team today for a quote by visiting our dedicated contact page, filling out a quote form online, calling us or sending us an email. However you decide to speak to us, one of our team will be able to assist you straight away with a quote for creating a biodiversity net gain plan specifically for your Hertfordshire development site. As soon as the BNG plan is completed, you can use it to bolster your application for planning permission to the local planning authority.