New biodiversity rules are set to create more than 123,000 football pitches of natural habitat over the course of the next full Parliament, claims research from a biodiversity tech start-up.
Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is a first-of-its-kind planning policy requiring developers in England to invest in measures in their development’s local area that will increase biodiversity by 10% to secure planning permission.
According to Joe’s Blooms, a company that provides digital tools it claims help developers enhance their local environment, this could mean a huge gain for local flora and fauna.
Both the Conservative Party and Labour have commitments to build 300,000 new homes each year. The research, based on new analysis of the government’s Net Gain Impact Assessment, shows that if these targets are met, it would create an additional 44,500 football pitches of natural habitat, and avoid the loss of 78,500 football pitches of biodiverse land over the next five years.
This, the company says, is the equivalent to securing an area the size of Leeds (55,000 hectares) and Birmingham (26,000 hectares) combined in green spaces.
Robin McArthur, chair of the Joe’s Blooms advisory board, said: “This analysis clearly demonstrates the sheer potential of BNG, and how nature recovery can and will be a central part of housing development.
“It’s now time to focus on preparation, and there’s a host of digital tools like Joe’s Blooms available to support local planning authorities (LPAs) implement BNG to its fullest. Working together, communities will see wildlife enriched with more green space, improving residents’ health and well-being, and boosting long-term income opportunities through green investments.”
LPAs are expected to play a central role in delivering BNG, ensuring developers meet a 10% uplift in biodiversity as part of the planning process.
A number of councils are already implementing BNG on a voluntary basis. Plymouth City Council approved a decision in March 2023 to create a habitat banking vehicle in line with BNG requirements, which it expects will generate a net benefit of £175,000 each year for 30 years.
Image credit: mokokomo/Shutterstock
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