BNG Plans in Somerset

Guarantee adherence to the biodiversity net gain policy on your Somerset development project by reaching out to our team of ecologists for a BNG plan following a thorough assessment of your site.

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Somerset Compliance to Biodiversity Net Gain

As of November 2021, the Environment Act (formerly the Environment Bill until gaining royal assent) has been an active part of UK legislation, and within it, the concept of biodiversity net gain (BNG) has played an important role in regulating the state of the natural environment. More specifically, in the majority of property or land developments, developers will be inclined to show consideration to retention of existing biodiversity value before improving upon it by a further 10% for a minimum of 30 years.

Confirmation of whether or not BNG has been successful will be determined based on two measurements: one taken prior to the new development and another predicted based on the expected state of the site after the development. Necessary changes will then be made to ensure that a minimum 10% increase has been met, with local planning authorities refusing planning applications until they receive evidential proof that it has.

Until 2023, the BNG requirement will be optional and decided by local councils. As such, developers staging planning projects in Somerset will need to be prepared for the local council to insist on using BNG as one of several fundamental factors that will affect the outcome of an application for planning permission. Many local authorities are already strictly following the rules of biodiversity net gain, and it is perfectly likely that Somerset County Council will follow suit.

Ecological Limitations Across Somerset

Conservation, preservation and protection of natural areas and elements in the county of Somerset are managed by a handful of responsible bodies. Looking at the biodiversity across Somerset, the county has 45 miles of coastline, 2,312 wildlife sites, 124 sites of special scientific interest, 11 special areas of conservation and national nature reserves, four areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), two special protection areas, and a national park.

A significant portion of the responsibility is held by Somerset Wildlife Trust, overseeing the safeguarding of local plant and animal habitats. Protected species include numerous bat species, dormice, great crested newts, the large blue butterfly, otters and various invasive or rare plants. A high standard of ecological and environmental quality are among Somerset’s best qualities, leading to restrictions around potential harm coming to green spaces across the county, even prior to the introduction of biodiversity net gain (BNG).

Setting the Parameters for BNG on a Development Site

For a biodiversity net gain plan to be created, an assessment of the site would be needed. Carried out by an ecologist, a BNG survey involves a thorough inspection of the entirety of the development site, allowing them to record the current biodiversity value. Using development proposals, site plans and thorough conversations with the developer, the ecological surveyor can then gauge the likely biodiversity value after the new projects have been completed.

Referring to the mitigation hierarchy for reference, ecological features such as protected animals and plants will be addressed accordingly to prevent any unnecessary harm to them, inevitably tarnishing biodiversity value. The mitigation hierarchy ranks avoidance of impact as the top priority outcome, followed by minimisation of impact, restoration of other parts of the development site, and the offsetting of impact elsewhere away from the site.

As well as following the mitigation hierarchy to deal with the expected effect on existing habitats, the ecological consultant would need to develop methods of enhancing biodiversity on-site if the post-development score won’t meet the 10% increase. In the form of an ecology report, the ecologist will then put together a biodiversity net gain plan featuring next steps and effective solutions for meeting the requirements of BNG. Once passed on to the local planning authority, the BNG plan should include everything needed to satisfy their needs for achieving BNG, supporting the application for a planning condition in both the planning and BNG process.

Organise a Visit from an Ecologist

Managed by trained, licensed, educated and capable ecologists, BNG assessments and plans are pivotal in developing pragmatic solutions that find success in meeting the aims of biodiversity net gain and all BNG requirements as outlined in primary and secondary legislation and by the corresponding local plan. BNG plans are universally recognised by local authorities as tangible, reliable and trustworthy evidence that a developer has operated within the guidelines of the planning policy.

Of all ecological consultancies, ours has an extensive wealth of knowledge that spans the BNG practice, the local area and the planning process, giving our team the best chance of dealing with any potential ecological emergency and securing planning applications for your new development. From there, we can achieve the appropriate net gain of biodiversity and oversee your planning project’s movement through the planning system until completion.

Every planning project and development site is different, and as such, we create quotes for delivering BNG based on the unique specifications of the client. Call us, fill out an online quote form or visit our contact us page, and once you have given us information about your development, we will send across a free quote. We can then establish a date to undertake the assessment, produce your BNG plan and help you to meet the requirements of the BNG policy and the Somerset Council to get your project through planning.