Biodiversity Net Gain Plans in Yorkshire and the Humber

Since November 2021, biodiversity net gain has been a factor that all developers have had to consider within their development project, and for any projects in Yorkshire and the Humber, our team are here to help with effective BNG plans.

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Environmental Quality Across Yorkshire

A report from The Yorkshire & Humber Biodiversity Forum on the region’s biodiversity strategy outlined the current state of the natural environment. It claims that the abundance and biodiversity of wildlife species in Yorkshire and the Humber have undergone a year-on-year decline and that, if it wasn’t for impactful primary and secondary legislation that targeted biodiversity losses and the local nature recovery strategy (LNRS), the problem would be far more severe.

Considering that a substantial 80% of Yorkshire and the Humber is considered rural, witnessing such a gradual collapse of the region’s environmental quality is a major loss to UK biodiversity as a whole. One of the several pieces of legislation, however, that the Yorkshire & Humber Biodiversity Forum claimed was likely to benefit the cause was the introduction of biodiversity net gain (BNG) in 2021.

BNG applies to all land developments in England and, despite a two-year transition period that may see loosened pressures over implementing the planning policy immediately, it is likely that the majority of local planning authorities are already insisting that current projects follow the rules and increase the state of biodiversity by at least 10%. More specifically, in the Yorkshire and the Humber region, BNG would apply to all four counties of East Riding of Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire, as well as all borough, county and district councils within them.

Yorkshire’s Local Planning Authorities

While every local council in England will enforce the rules of biodiversity net gain universally, you may be interested to learn which local authority you will be dealing with based on the location of your development project. In the section below, every council in the Yorkshire and the Humber region is listed by county.

East Riding of Yorkshire

  • East Riding of Yorkshire Council
  • Hull City Council
  • North East Lincolnshire Council
  • North Lincolnshire Council

North Yorkshire

  • City of York Council
  • Craven District Council
  • Hambleton District Council
  • Harrogate Borough Council
  • North Yorkshire County Council
  • Richmondshire District Council
  • Ryedale District Council
  • Scarborough Borough Council
  • Selby District Council

South Yorkshire

  • Barnsley Council
  • Doncaster Council
  • Rotherham Council
  • Sheffield City Council
  • South Yorkshire Combined Authority

West Yorkshire

  • Bradford Council
  • Calderdale Council
  • Kirklees Council
  • Leeds City Council
  • Wakefield Council
  • West Yorkshire Combined Authority

Operating within BNG

A fundamental policy in the Environment Act 2021 (formerly the environment bill), the concept of biodiversity net gain focuses solely on leaving a development site in an improved state following the completion of planning projects. It must be by at least 10% and last for a minimum period of 30 years, but to ensure that the correct parameters are met, improve the baseline value to a better state, and simply benefit the natural environment as much as possible, it would be worthwhile to aim above this figure.

For BNG to work, biodiversity quality needs to be measured before the development using DEFRA biodiversity metric calculations and estimated post-development based on details of the project, site and the strategic significance of alterations set to be implemented. With the help of an ecological consultancy, developers can find ways to increase the biodiversity score on-site once the project is complete, and if it simply isn’t possible, they can invest in biodiversity units on third-party land that benefits BNG outside of the location off-site.

Due to the two-year transition, it could be the case that the planning department of your local council isn’t yet adhering to the rules of biodiversity net gain. However, as many local authorities are following the policy already in preparation for it becoming more commonplace in the year 2023, developing an understanding of BNG and incorporating it into your development plans regardless would be a shrewd move.

Experts in Biodiversity Net Gain

Back in 2018, biodiversity net gain was referenced by the UK government for the first time, and it took four short years for it to gain royal assent as one of the several policies within the Environment Act. Although there have been opportunities for developers and local planning authorities to learn more about it in the BNG supplementary planning document, for instance, the rapid nature of its inception and implementation has meant that experts on the subject are hard to come by.

That said, our experienced and knowledgeable ecological consultants pride themselves on maintaining a grasp of the latest standards and advancements in the world of ecology. As a result, they hold an extensive understanding of biodiversity net gain and the planning process. Each experienced ecologist in our team has accreditation from the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) or similar responsible bodies and acts as an invaluable asset for developers that need help with meeting the necessary requirements, satisfying the corresponding local planning authority, and securing successful planning applications.

Such actions that could be executed to achieve net gain of biodiversity value include undertaking additional assessments such as a preliminary ecological appraisal (PEA), providing steps forward using the mitigation hierarchy, organising new habitat creation such as the output of bat boxes, enhancing existing ecological features, and in cases that include sites of special scientific interest (SSSI), offering further guidance and management plans to avoid biodiversity loss and remain in line with the BNG process.

Book in a BNG Assessment

During a biodiversity net gain assessment, a licensed ecologist will collect further information about the site and the project. Between this and additional data picked up from a physical inspection of the site, they can determine effective next steps that will guarantee a biodiversity increase of at least 10%.

Whether you are aware that your local authority is enforcing BNG or simply want to avoid any potential issues that could arise if they are, arranging for a qualified ecologist to develop a biodiversity net gain plan would be strongly advisable. Through taking this approach, you can achieve multiple crucial goals including meeting the 10% biodiversity increase, reaching the requirements of your local planning department, and ticking all of the correct boxes to achieve a planning condition.

Before you commit to us, we can give you a free no obligation quote. All you need to do is speak to our team using the quote form or phone number at the top of this page. We can then issue you with a quote based on the specifications of your site and project, and if you want to proceed, we will arrange a BNG assessment at a suitable date and time. You will then receive your completed BNG plan within a few days following the survey, and you can move forward with your project through submitting it to your local planning authority as part of the planning application.