Home » BNG development rules could cut carbon by 650K tonnes a year

BNG development rules could cut carbon by 650K tonnes a year

by Mark Cantrell
A plant growing out of a concrete pavement

Natural habitats created by new biodiversity laws could absorb up to 650,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, according to research from tech start-up, Joe’s Blooms.

The government has introduced new planning rules on biodiversity net gain (BNG), which came into effect earlier this year, and are still being rolled out. In April, the new rules become mandatory for small developments.

BNG requires property developers to invest in measures that increase the amount of plants and wildlife in the local area by 10%, making UK towns and villages greener and helping to support nature recovery.

Based on the government’s Net Gain Impact Assessment which shows that new regulations could see England benefit from over 15,000 hectares of biodiversity each year, the research analysed the carbon storage potential of the natural habitats that this increase could create.

Looking at the distribution of different habitats across the UK, the research found that the carbon storage potential of woodland, heath, grasslands, and wetlands equates to emissions released from 4.6bn kilometres of driving an average car.

Robin McArthur, chair of the Joe’s Blooms advisory board, said: “This analysis adds to mounting evidence that nature recovery fuelled by BNG, whether it’s restoring wildlife-rich habitats or creating green corridors to bridge together fragmented habitats, will play a central role in boosting the UK’s resilience to climate change. Developers and local authorities have an opportunity to build the homes we so desperately need whilst also making a nature-positive contribution to the climate crisis.”

As well as the carbon absorption potential, increasing woodlands, heath, grasslands, and wetlands through the new BNG policy will protect England’s native plant and animal species – with recent data from the Woodland Trust finding that one-third of all woodland species are diminishing.

The analysis comes as recent data from the European Earth Observation Agency shows global annual temperatures have for the first time breached the critical benchmark of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels set by the United Nations, with January 2024 being the hottest start to a year on record.

Scientists around the world have long argued nature restoration is central to tackling the climate crisis. Research shows that over the past 10 years, ecosystems and the biodiversity they contain have absorbed 54% of human-made carbon emissions.

Natural habitats also provide important solutions to more extreme weather patterns such as increased rainfall, with analysis showing that biodiverse land decreases flood exposure by up to 70%.

Joe’s Blooms is a digital solution that helps property developers and others to enhance their local environment by making it simple to comply with the new BNG regulations. The company provides tools that produce all of the site-specific data and legal documents required to secure planning permission under the new scheme.

With the policy mandatory for small developments as of 2 April, the company says its research demonstrates that BNG will play a key role in boosting natural habitats across England and supporting the UK’s efforts to fight global warming.

Image credit: namtipStudio/Shutterstock

Read next: Keeping the planning system lean and green

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