Biodiversity Net Gain Plans in the West Midlands

Meeting the 10% increase of biodiversity as part of BNG is soon to become mandatory following a two-year transition. For developments in the West Midlands, we would advise preparing for the change early using our biodiversity net gain plans.

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West Midlands Nature and Wildlife

Between concerns over local natural assets and efforts to contribute to enhancing the state of nationwide biodiversity, authorities in the West Midlands region are committed to initiatives that would significantly improve the environment. For instance, one example is the West Midlands Natural Environment Plan – an initiative from the West Midlands Combined Authority that aims to reach net zero emissions by the year 2041.

Through the relatively quick introduction of biodiversity net gain (BNG), departments within local councils that focus on environmental conservation, preservation and protection have stepped up incentives to improve the quality of the environment, both on a local and national level. BNG is a planning policy that insists on developers maintaining the standard of biodiversity before building on it by an additional 10%.

All developers will be required to adhere to biodiversity net gain for current and future planning projects. In many cases, the policy may not apply during the active two-year transition period. However, as it will soon be mandatory for any land development in England – including in the West Midlands and the counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands County and Worcestershire within it – it would be strongly advisable to operate within the rules to avoid the potentially costly delays that would otherwise occur by breaching the policy.

Local Authorities in the West Midlands

Eventually, every local authority in the West Midlands and the rest of England will enforce biodiversity net gain. In the meantime, they have the option to insist on the planning policy at their own discretion. For your development, the only local council that will matter is the one with jurisdiction over your site. To help with understanding who you would need to satisfy, every local authority in the West Midlands based on county is listed below.

Herefordshire

  • Herefordshire Council (previously separate authorities split between Hereford City Council, Hereford-Worcester County Council, Leominster District Council, Malvern Hills District Council, and South Herefordshire District Council).

Shropshire

  • Shropshire Council (previously separate authorities split between Bridgnorth District Council, North Shropshire District Council, Oswestry Borough Council, Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council and South Shropshire District Council).

Staffordshire

  • Cannock Chase District Council,
  • East Staffordshire Council
  • Lichfield District Council
  • Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council
  • Stafford Borough Council
  • Staffordshire County Council
  • Stoke-on-Trent City Council
  • Tamworth Borough Council

Warwickshire

  • North Warwickshire Borough Council
  • Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council
  • Rugby Borough Council
  • Stratford-on-Avon District Council
  • Warwickshire County Council
  • Warwick District Council

West Midlands County

  • Birmingham City Council
  • City of Wolverhampton Council
  • Coventry City Council
  • Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Walsall Council
  • West Midlands County Council

Worcestershire

  • Bromsgrove District Council
  • Malvern Hills District Council
  • Redditch Borough Council
  • Worcester City Council
  • Wychavon District Council
  • Wyre Forest District Council

Following Biodiversity Net Gain

A planning policy that became a part of law in 2021 under the umbrella of the Environment Act, biodiversity net gain will soon be a universal component of any and all developments in England following a two-year transition period.

The concept of biodiversity net gain focuses on improving the state of the environment on a site post-development compared to pre-development. To do this effectively, a measurement is made before the project is undertaken and, based on the plans, a second measurement is determined for after the development. If the 10% increase is met, net gain of biodiversity is achieved. If not, an ecologist would need to suggest alternative changes that could satisfy the mandate.

Ideally, measures that would meet the desired 10% increase would be implemented on-site such as creating new habitats away from infrastructure or planting valuable flora in suitable areas. However, as it isn’t always possible to introduce further natural assets onto a site, an ecologist in charge of meeting the increase to biodiversity value will be forced to meet the requirement off-site through purchasing BNG credits.

Meeting the BNG Requirement

In order to implement effective measures that will achieve biodiversity net gain, you would need to involve an ecologist with a firm understanding of BNG. After originally being announced in 2018 and passed into law in 2021 as part of the Environment Act, biodiversity net gain is relatively new and, as a result, a lot of ecological consultancies may still be getting up to speed in what it is, how it works and how it could impact development.

Our ecologists, however, are knowledgeable about advancements in the world of ecology and maintain an updated understanding of BNG. Through this, they can conduct thorough assessments and develop insightful and impactful BNG plans with all of the recommendations required to achieve a net gain increase of at least 10%, satisfy the local planning authority, and gain planning permission on the site.

Reach Out to an Ecologist

Although BNG is yet to become an enforced planning policy across England, it will be following completion of the two-year transition period. Additionally, many local planning authorities across England are within their right to insist on the mandate being followed immediately. As such, the best course of action for any and all developers would be to treat biodiversity net gain as if it was already strictly mandatory.

BNG plans emerge following a biodiversity net gain assessment carried out by a licensed ecologist. Within the plan are next steps that will ensure a 10% increase to biodiversity on the site, or if it simply isn’t possible, methods of achieving the mandate off-site such as through the purchasing of BNG credits.

Using the valid recommendations of our team of ecologists, it will be possible to successfully arrive at or possibly even surpass the 10% increase, reach the requirements of your local planning authority, and tick all of the correct boxes to gain a planning condition.

To start the process, get in touch with our team, give us details of your site and project, and we will be able to provide you with a no obligation quote free of charge. Then, if you are happy to move forward, we can arrange a physical inspection of your West Midlands site at a time that suits your schedule, and begin to support your project.