BNG Plans in Kent

Instead of struggling with meeting the requirements of biodiversity net gain and failing to gain planning permission, developers in the Kent area would benefit from reaching out to our team of ecologists for a BNG plan.

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Operating Within the Rules of Biodiversity Net Gain

Since it was incorporated into UK legislation in November 2021 as part of the Environment Act (Environment Bill prior to royal assent), mandatory biodiversity net gain (BNG) has been a part of land and property developments that insists upon consideration for the natural world. The concept sees the local councils demand that the required standards of the natural environment are retained to the same quality, any chance of biodiversity loss is avoided, sustainable development is encouraged in development projects moving forwards, and relevant schemes achieve enhancement by an additional statutory minimum increase of 10% after the planning project is complete.

Rather than the expected 10% increase, the county’s planning authorities and the Kent Nature Partnership (KNP) are in fact pushing for a higher BNG, reaching 15% or even 20%. KNP’s promotion has been entertained by Kent’s planning authorities, using a strategic viability assessment to gauge whether a larger increase to biodiversity net gain would be potentially viable depending on the development site and project in question.

A measurement of the site’s biodiversity value will be taken before the development and – using the plans of the project – a measurement will be taken to predict the likely biodiversity value after the development. Based on the deficit between the two readings, changes can be made to ensure that the required 10% increase has been met, removing any obstacles that would otherwise prevent the local planning authority from granting a planning condition on the site.

Up until a mandatory approach to the policy guidance in February 2024, the requirement for biodiversity net gain will be optional based on the opinion of the local authorities due to a two-year transition period. In Kent, developers can choose to chance not being challenged on a lack of adherence to the policy, but as Kent County Council have been in favour of a county-wide approach to BNG since it was first introduced, it has been far safer for developers to treat it as law, potentially saving time and money later in the planning process.

Management and Protection of Ecological Features

Featuring 22 internationally designated sites, 15 Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), seven Special Protection Areas (SPAs), six Ramsar sites and two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Kent is recognised as a location with a high standard of biodiversity. It is home to more than 20,000 species of animal and plant, equating to almost 30% of all species across the country, and 7% of the county is covered by a total of 466 local wildlife sites.

As well as local communities and Natural England, the vast green areas and numerous plant and animal species are safeguarded by Kent Wildlife Trust, who are given the responsibility of overseeing conservation, preservation and protection across the county. Among the present protected animals that could benefit from biodiversity net gain, Kent is home to bats, dormice, great crested newts and several butterfly species, along with a multitude of rare or invasive plants.

In order for the current state of the natural environment to be retained and elevated to a better state, certain policies need to be strictly followed, with biodiversity net gain principles and Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) standing as a barrier between developers and planning projects that would otherwise cause reckless or unnecessary harm.

Biodiversity Value Before and After Developments

An ecologist will attend the development site to carry out an assessment and record all present ecological features, paying special attention to protected species of animals and plants. Further information retrieved from the survey will account for the pre-development measurement, and using development proposals, site plans and conversations with the developer, a post-development measurement will be predicted. Between the two measurements, any deficit will be addressed, with mitigation measures for actions that will negatively affect ecological assets, and recommendations for new features to contribute to the necessary 10% net gain of biodiversity that will leave biodiversity in a better state.

For any and all on-site listed protected species, a mitigation hierarchy will be used, prioritising avoidance of harm but with options to minimise impact, restore other features or offset impacts elsewhere featuring as alternative approaches in that order. It will be down to the ecological consultant to suitably mitigate for rare or valuable animals and plants on the site as well as putting forward changes to the development plans that will guarantee a minimum of 10% increase to biodiversity on top of the original value before the project took place.

Similar in appearance and purpose to an ecology report, all of the details from the assessment – including the pre-development and post-development score, present natural assets, mitigation measures and suggestions to meet the planning requirement – will be detailed in the biodiversity net gain plan. The developer can then give the plan to the planning department of their local council, and with all of the relevant boxes ticked, it will play a significant role in the process of granting planning permission on the site.

Reach Out for a BNG Plan Quote

Coordinated and executed by ecologists with the necessary qualifications, training and licensing, our team undertake BNG assessments and create biodiversity net gain plans to the highest possible standard, providing consistency to all clients. Local planning authorities regard BNG plans as a trustworthy account of a site’s current and future biodiversity value and a pragmatic guide to ensuring that the mandate is met accordingly. As such, it will be crucial for seeing your planning application for your project successful.

In our time, we have helped numerous clients in planning applications whenever it has been dependent on delivering BNG correctly. We will work with any variables that you have, such as the need for funding support or managing development projects in other countries, and if you need any help with mitigation class licences from Natural England, for example, we can assist with such additional tasks to support your development plans.

Every project we have assisted with has been unique and different from the last, and with this in mind, we treat every development differently, pricing up quotes based on the specifications of the development site. Developers in the Kent area would benefit from contacting us for a free quote, and we can then make the first step in meeting the requirements of your local authority and push your project through planning.