BNG Plans in Norfolk

In most circumstances, Norfolk County Council and other local authorities in the area will refuse any applications for planning consent without evidence that you have met biodiversity net gain with a BNG plan.

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Adherence to the BNG Planning Policy

From November 2021 onwards, the Environment Act (previously the Environment Bill prior to royal assent) has stood as applicable legislation, as have all elements within it, such as the biodiversity net gain (BNG) concept. It revolves around an intention to maintain a grasp over the current standard of the natural environment in the majority of development projects and build upon it to a better state by a minimum increase of 10% and for a minimum duration of 30 years.

To satisfy the BNG requirement, two measurements are needed for the biodiversity value before and after the project. Comparisons between the measurements can be made to reverse any net loss of biodiversity and enhance biodiversity until the 10% increase has been achieved. Up until February 2024, the local authorities were given ownership over whether or not to judge BNG as a condition of planning applications, but after this point, it was made a mandatory consideration.

Local councils overseeing Norfolk – primarily Norfolk County Council – are favourable towards initiatives that could fight climate change, such as the creation of an environment hub, drives to encourage sustainable food production, efforts to reduce flood risk, restrictions around any significant proposed land-use change, support from the Wendling Beck Exemplar Project (WBEP), and ongoing regulation from the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership (NBP). Likewise, biodiversity net gain is expected to be followed to the letter since it was announced as a component in modern planning.

Standards of Local Biodiversity

Home to the city of Norwich, the county of Norfolk is considered predominantly rural and one of the most natural in England. The various patches of untouched and undeveloped land have made it possible for Norfolk to contain more than half of the total number of priority habitats found all over the UK, including 24 freshwater and terrestrial habitats and – through its natural coastline – 11 marine habitats.

In terms of protected sites, Norfolk has 22 National Nature Reserves (NNRs), 12 Ramsar sites, 163 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), 12 Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), and 9 Special Protection Areas (SPAs). Multiple responsible bodies provide protection over the abundance of valuable green spaces across the county, such as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, which primarily safeguards the many protected species.

Protected species of animal identified in Norfolk include bitterns, hedgehogs, natterjack toads, otters, pine martens, red squirrels and water voles, as well as a multitude of rare and invasive plants. The level of biodiversity quality is one of the proud staples of the county of Norfolk, but while regulation of natural features and rural areas is a positive for the environment and supports biodiversity net gain (BNG), it also poses an additional stumbling block for developers.

Evaluation of Biodiversity

Before it is possible to find success in mandatory BNG, a biodiversity net gain plan would need to be assembled using a thorough assessment of the development site. Ecological consultants manage the process, overlooking the existing condition of the site to gauge a current biodiversity value and using the plans of the project and conversations with the developer to predict the biodiversity value of the project once it is complete.

Using the mitigation hierarchy to make decisions that will contribute to the desired outcome, the ecological surveyor will take all ecological features such as protected animals and plants into consideration and distinguish changes that will bridge any gap between the two measurements and increase by the required 10% minimum. Prevention of biodiversity loss is a priority outcome, but if it is not possible due to the nature of the planning project, mitigation will be enacted via a number of methods.

Some form of habitat creation and nature recovery would typically prompt the necessary enhancement of biodiversity, but if no level of mitigation will suffice, as a last resort, the required number of biodiversity units will be purchased on a different plot of land away from the development site. Instead of an ecology report, data from the assessment will be compiled in a BNG plan, and as it will tick off all of the potential concerns of the corresponding local planning authorities in Norfolk, it will assist in the endeavour for planning permission.

Ask for Help with Biodiversity Net Gain

After obtaining sufficient training, qualifications and experience, each ecological consultant in our team has the personal and professional capabilities to attend your site for an assessment before providing you with a comprehensive BNG plan. You will find a universally high standard of service from all of our team, and the same quality in every biodiversity net gain plan, offering coverage to all areas and adhering to the rules of all local authorities, from Norfolk County Council in Norfolk and beyond.

It would be advisable to arrange a BNG assessment early into the planning process to ensure that you are operating within the rules and prevent unnecessary and potentially costly delays. You can do this by visiting our contact page, calling us using the number above or filling out our online quote form. Shortly after providing us with your details, we will send you a free quote, and on a date of your choosing, one of our ecological surveyors will be able to attend your site to evaluate the natural environment, decide on suitable steps to achieve BNG, and help with your planning application.