Health

Practical Guide for Effective BNG Planning and Measurement

Introduction:

With the looming deadline of January 2024 for mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) implementation in England, local planning authorities (LPAs) and developers need to be prepared. BNG requires new developments to deliver a measurable net increase in biodiversity compared to the baseline pre-development condition. To ensure efficient and successful implementation, a well-defined plan and robust measurement protocols are crucial.

Effective BNG Planning:

  • Early Integration: Integrate BNG considerations into development plans early on, aligning it with local biodiversity strategies and ecological networks.
  • Baseline Assessment: Conduct a thorough baseline assessment of the existing biodiversity on the development site, using the official Biodiversity Metric.
  • Target Setting: Set clear and measurable targets for BNG gains, considering habitat types, species, and ecological connectivity.
  • Mitigation Hierarchy: Prioritize avoiding, minimizing, and restoring biodiversity impacts before considering offsite compensation.
  • On-site Enhancements: Identify opportunities for habitat creation, restoration, and enhancement within the development footprint.
  • Off-site Compensation: Explore suitable off-site compensation options if unavoidable impacts occur, ensuring they are ecologically equivalent and long-term.
  • Funding Mechanisms: Secure adequate funding for BNG implementation, including long-term management and monitoring.

Measurement and Monitoring:

  • Baseline Data Collection: Collect robust baseline data on biodiversity using standardized methods and tools.
  • Monitoring Plan: Develop a comprehensive monitoring plan to track progress towards BNG targets, identify potential issues, and adapt strategies if needed.
  • Data Management: Establish a system for storing, managing, and analyzing BNG data effectively.
  • Reporting: Report BNG progress regularly to stakeholders, including LPAs, developers, and local communities.
  • Verification and Audit: Ensure independent verification and audit of BNG calculations and outcomes.

Additional Considerations:

  • Training and Skills Development: Invest in training for LPAs and developers on BNG principles, measurements, and planning.
  • Collaboration and Partnerships: Foster collaboration between LPAs, developers, ecologists, and other stakeholders.
  • Public Engagement: Engage with local communities and raise awareness about BNG benefits and implementation.
  • Continuous Improvement: Regularly review and improve BNG practices and methodologies based on lessons learned and best practices.

Resources:

Conclusion:

Effective BNG planning and measurement are crucial for achieving the desired ecological benefits. By implementing the practical steps outlined in this guide and utilizing available resources, LPAs and developers can contribute to a more biodiverse future. Remember, the January 2024 deadline is fast approaching, so prompt action is essential.

James Vines

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