Interim guidance on Biodiversity Net Gain in Gloucestershire
Biodiversity Net Gain in relation to developments means that habitats for wildlife must be left in a measurably better state than they were before the development occurred. Under the Environment Action 2021, almost all planning permissions in England will have to deliver at least 10% biodiversity net gain. In January 2024, delivering biodiversity net gain will become mandatory for Major Site applications.
All of Gloucestershire's local district authorities and Gloucestershire County Council have worked together, and with the Local Nature Partnership, to produce this guidance document: Interim Guidance on delivering Biodiversity Net Gain for planning applicants and developers in Gloucestershire. Many thanks to all the local authorities for working together in this way, and especially to Stroud District Council as the lead draft writer and Cotswold District Council for design.
This interim guidance will be updated as national guidance and secondary legislation is published. The first iteration was dated August 2023 and the current downloadable version is dated September 2023.
Biodiversity Net Gain is calculated using the Biodiversity Metric tool and must be secured for at least 30 years. Achieving biodiversity net gain on-site is preferred. If 10% net gain cannot be fully achieved on-site then biodiversity net gain can be delivered off-site through habitat enhancement or creation. In the Biodiversity Metric, the Strategic Significance Multiplier helps to target the locations and habitat creation plans for off-site biodiversity net gain towards the places where new habitat creation or enhancement will make the most difference for nature recovery.
Once there is a Local Nature Recovery Strategy for Gloucestershire, this will determine the application of the Strategic Significance Multiplier - sites where the locations and habitat plans match the priorities of the Local Nature Recovery Strategy will be able to increase the number of Biodiversity Units that the site can offer by 15%.
There is a timing challenge as biodiversity net gain is mandatory for major site planning applications from January 2024, and the Gloucestershire Local Nature Recovery Strategy will likely be ready at the end of 2024/early 2025. Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership nature conservation and local authority partners worked together to create an interim position on how the strategic significance multiplier should be used in Gloucestershire, until there is a Local Nature Recovery Strategy in place. This interim position is set out in the Technical Appendix of the Interim Guidance.
Gloucestershire has it's own broker for Biodiversity Units - Gloucestershire Nature + Climate Fund. Gloucestershire Nature + Climate Fund was initiated by Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership and Gfirst LEP to work on natural capital investment in Gloucestershire and is now set up as a non-profit company https://glosncf.com/ .