Rivers & Biodiversity Net Gain

Rivers & Biodiversity Net Gain

The aim of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is to make developers provide an increase in appropriate natural habitat and ecological features over and above that affected by a development. Basically, to leave nature in a better state than they found it, by a value of 10% or more. So how can you calculate the value of biodiversity, and decide what 10% improvement will look like? This involves the use of metrics (Biodiversity Metric 3.0) to determine a baseline score and to calculate how much new or restored habitat is required to deliver a net gain in biodiversity. This is one of the biggest changes to UK conservation funding for decades. Following the Environment Bill gaining royal assent on the 9th Nov 2021, BNG is expected to become law in 2023 once the transition period has passed.

This means that all planning developments will have to quantify their anticipated impact on habitats as part of their planning application, and come up with, and subsequently fund, a long-term plan that can deliver at least 10% more of the habitats that they are going to negatively affect either on-site (via the “mitigation hierarchy”) where they are building, or (if they cannot do this) then they must do so somewhere else with comparable habitat or potential to create comparable habitat. This is known as off-site delivery or offsetting.

The metric splits habitats into three categories; Rivers, Hedges and Habitat. Any habitat within a developments red line boundary requires 10% improvement in all categories that are present on the development site. This means that if a river passes through a development site, the developers are not proposing any negative impact on the waterbody, they still need to enhance the river to meet 10% net gain.

River Condition Assessment (RCA) survey is completed to determine the habitat condition. This, survey result alongside the rivers distinctiveness value, riparian encroachment and strategic significant create the baseline score. The FiveRivers Design team can undertake RCA surveys. The design team can develop river restoration plans and forecast the proposed changes to the baseline score for a given design, ensuring 10% net gain or greater is achieved.

FiveRivers are perfectly placed to survey, design and build the required net gain for developers relating to rivers. An exciting opportunity for biodiversity and FiveRivers!

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