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Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is an approach to development that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than before. 

The Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull sub-region was one of six national pilot areas to trial biodiversity offsetting during 2012-2014. Since then, Planning Authorities in Warwickshire have been ensuring that developments provide a biodiversity gain to comply with the National Planning Policy Framework (as amended) and the local policies. 

In November 2021 the Environment amended the Town and Countryside Planning Act 1990 (TCPA) introducing the following: 

  • Part 6 and Schedule 14 placed an obligation on developers for a minimum 10% increase in baseline biodiversity value in developments that require planning permission under the TCPA.
  • Schedule 14 states that planning applications to be supported by Biodiversity Gain Plans. Habitat management to be secured via a condition or conservation covenant for at least 30 years. 
  • Section 101 introduces statutory credits, which should be used as a last resort. Statutory credits will be sold by the UK government to developers who cannot deliver BNG within the development site or via the off-site market. 

In summary, from 2nd April 2024 all Minor and Major applications (with some exemptions, see below) are required to demonstrate a 10% increase in biodiversity value, which is to be secured through a Biodiversity Net Gain plan. 

Additionally, Section 102 of the Environment Act strengthened the ‘Biodiversity Duty’ within the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. This duty requires Local Authorities to ‘conserve and enhance biodiversity’ when exercising of their functions. This infers that any planning decisions may also look for wider enhancements for those species and habitats within what is called the Section 42 list (Priority Habitats and Species).

We have also produced a BNG Process Flow Chart that aims to guide you through when and what is required at each stage of your development; site selection, pre-submission, submission and validation, consideration and approval, pre-commencement to commencement and monitoring. 

BNG Support 

The Statutory Biodiversity Metrics must be used to calculate to calculate your BNG or loss.

Warwickshire County Council supports all Warwickshire Local Authorities in their ecological planning considerations. We offer a Discretionary Advice Service, should you wish to pay for advice on any ecology concerns you may have. This includes BNG as well as species. 

We have also produced a BNG Process Flow Chart that aims to guide you through when and what is required at each stage of your development; site selection, pre-submission, submission and validation, consideration and approval, pre-commencement to commencement and monitoring. 

The Flow Chart has links to the District and Borough Validation Checklist pages as well as other helpful government and best practice webpages. Additional guidance is provided within the Warwickshire Coventry and Solihull Green Infrastructure Strategy. 

We are about to consult on Annex A: Ecosystem Services Trading Protocol. Annex A is a technical document that is to be read in conjunction with the government guidance on BNG. It will provide guidance on: 

  • Any Exceptional Circumstances (Rule 5 of the national BNG requirement)
  • Strategic significance factors (benefits for creating the right habitat in the right place)
  • Stacking and Bundling rules (how multiple units/credits created by a habitat can be traded
  • Financial Additionality Tests (habitats that may be financially supported by other sources)
  • Excess Units (how any surplus units generated from a development can be used to offset another development’s impacts)


General BNG advice

If there is a watercourse within 10 metres of the application site boundary or within 5 metres of a wet ditch, a River Condition Assessment must be carried out by an accredited ecologist. The results need to be included in the Watercourse module of metric. A 10% BNG for watercourses is required where they are preset within the application site boundary. 

The Mitigation Hierarchy must be applied. Adverse direct or indirect impacts to medium, high, very high distinctiveness and irreplaceable habitat are to be avoided. However, where avoidance of harm is not possible impacts must be minimised through mitigation. Only as a last resort, compensation through offsetting should be used. You will be asked to demonstrate how the Mitigation Hierarchy has been applied within your application. 

Any compensation must follow the Local Authorities planning policies in which your application lies. However, the general spatial Compensation Hierarchy will apply:

  • On Site
  • Within the Local Planning Authority where the impacts occur 
  • Within a neighbouring authority 
  • Within Warwickshire, Coventry Solihull 
  • Elsewhere in England 

Submitting a planning application

Where an applicant believes the development would be subject to the biodiversity gain condition, the application must be accompanied by minimum information set out in Article 7 of The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015: 

  • confirmation that the applicant believes that planning permission, if granted, the development would be subject to the biodiversity gain condition.
  • the pre-development biodiversity value(s), either on the date of application or earlier proposed date (as appropriate);
  • where the applicant proposes to use an earlier date, this proposed earlier date and the reasons for proposing that date.
  • the completed metric calculation tool showing the calculations of the pre-development biodiversity value of the onsite habitat on the date of application (or proposed earlier date) including the publication date of the biodiversity metric used to calculate that value.
  • a statement whether activities have been carried out prior to the date of application (or earlier proposed date), that result in loss of onsite biodiversity value (‘degradation’), and where they have:
  • a statement to the effect that these activities have been carried out.
  • the date immediately before these activities were carried out.
  • the pre-development biodiversity value of the onsite habitat on this date.
  • the completed metric calculation tool showing the calculations, and
  • any available supporting evidence of this.
  • a description of any irreplaceable habitat (as set out in column 1 of the Schedule to the Biodiversity Gain)

In summary of the above, it is strongly recommended that the following is submitted as part of a planning application otherwise your application may not be validated: 

  • Statutory Biodiversity Metric (excel file) showing baseline habitat values
  • If relevant, a statement of any activities that have been carried out prior to the submission of the application that result in a loss or gain of onsite the biodiversity value. This statement should include:
    • why these activities have been carried out;
    • the date when these activities were carried out
    • a completed metric calculation tool showing the value of the onsite habitat on this date, and
    • any available supporting evidence; 
  • A description of any irreplaceable habitat within the site. 
  • Habitat condition assessment. 
  • A drawing showing onsite habitats, including any irreplaceable habitats. 

The following should also be submitted where onsite or offsite habitat creation or enhancement is know or is intended: 

If the application is exempt from 10% BNG, a statement should be provided as part of the planning application setting out the reasons why this is the case. 

BNG Exemptions 

The 10% biodiversity gain requirement does not apply to the following types of development:

  • Householder development. 
  • Permitted development. 
  • Development subject to the de minimis exemption. Development that does not impact a priority habitat and impacts less than 25m2 of onsite habitat, or 5m of linear habitats. 
  • Biodiversity gain sites. 
  • Urgent Crown development granted permission under section 293A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. 
  • Development related to the high-speed railway transport network. 
  • Self-build and custom build development. Development which: 
    • consists of no more than 9 dwellings, and 
    • is carried out on a site which has an area no larger than 0.5 hectares, and 
    • consists exclusively of dwellings which are self-build or custom housebuilding. 

Securing BNG 

Biodiversity Gain Plan Condition 

The minimum 30-year on-site and any off-site habitat management will be secured via the Biodiversity Gain Plan condition or obligation. The Plan should contain the following information: 

  • How the biodiversity gain hierarchy was applied. 
  • The biodiversity unit values before and after development. 
  • How the 10% BNG will be delivered. 
  • Include habitat management prescriptions. 
  • Include habitat monitoring by an appointed ecologist in years 1,3,5,10, 20 and 30. The monitoring report should be sent to the LPA. 
  • Details of who is responsible for funding and carrying out the management works for the 30-year period, and also for funding and carrying out the habitat monitoring. 

Additionally, the following must be submitted: 

  • Statutory Biodiversity Metric showing pre- and post-development habitats. 
  • Drawings showing habitats before and after development. 

S106 and Conservation Covenant 

Any off-site gains can be secured via a S106 agreement or Conservation Covenant. 

Statutory Biodiversity Credits 

If Statutory Biodiversity Credits have been agreed as an acceptable last resort solution by the LPA, a proof of purchase will need to be proof of purchase provided.

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