New developments will be needed to improve the biodiversity of their areas by 10% under new planning regulations subject to consultation by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Improvements will also need to be made in a way that reduces or restores any loss of biodiversity that occurred during the construction phase of the development.
Called “net biodiversity gain”, this new approach aims to protect existing habitats and minimize the impact of development on biodiversity.
The government is also considering setting up a £4million finance fund to help local planning authorities make way for the new regulations, which will become mandatory two years after the Environment Act receives Royal Assent in November last year.
These funds will help authorities develop and hone their resources and teams of conservationists, which Defra says will further increase their ability to work with developers and communities to deliver biodiversity gains.
Improvements are expected to include the restoration of wildlife, plants and landscapes after the completion of construction works and will take place on site, elsewhere in the local community or by purchasing credits to be used for nature restoration elsewhere in England.
The consultation, which ends on April 5, asks questions about how the net gain in biodiversity will be applied to the development of land use planning law and, at a higher level, to major infrastructure projects national.
Housing Minister Christopher Pincher said: “While some developers, planning authorities and practitioners have already followed a net biodiversity gain approach voluntarily or in accordance with local planning policy, the standardized and mandatory approach offered to them would provide clarity and certainty on the biodiversity net. earning requirement and how to help improve the environment through development.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “The pandemic has reinforced how much our homes, communities and outdoor spaces matter to us.
“Our plans to ensure that new developments better protect and enhance wildlife and nature will create better places to live and work, and this will ensure that we leave our environment in a better condition for future generations.”
Natural England Chairman Tony Juniper also welcomed the consultation, saying: “Investing in the restoration of nature is a vital national priority and the Net Gain in Biodiversity is an ambitious and innovative mechanism to achieve this.
“It is important to remember, however, that the starting point is to avoid any damage in the first place, moving to net gain agreements only where developments meet all other planning requirements.”