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 4.0) 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. The legislation comes into force in November of this year (2023).
This means that all planning developments will have to quantify their anticipated impact on habitats as part of their planning application, and produce a long-term plan that can deliver, monitor and maintain an area of habitat that will offset biodiversity by at least 10%. This strategy will need to be well planned and furthermore funded by the applicant. A mitigation hierarchy determines the preferable methods of offsetting starting with “onsite” where mitigation takes place on the site of the development. Where this is not possible the developers are encouraged to purchase land away from their redline boundary to mitigate “offsite”. The preference here is that the scheme remains local, although this is not mandatory. The final method of achieving BNG is the purchase of credits from someone who has excess from a scheme or has created BNG credits on their own land to assist developers and benefit nature.
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.
A 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.
We also have the capacity to undertake surveying and BNG calculations for terrestrial habitat and hedgerows features. If you are looking to offset onsite or offsite, we can provide a mitigation strategy that covers the different habitat requirements on your development site as well as delivery of the landscaping and habitat improvement by our expert build team.
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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