Biodiversity Net Gain – An Opportunity for Landowners
(article from Rob Wreglesworth of the Environment Bank)
The need for biodiversity offsetting sites is due to sharply increase with the introduction of mandatory biodiversity net gain under England’s planning law, generating a new avenue of investment into the rural economy and into your land.
An Introduction to Biodiversity Net Gain
Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is a requirement on the part of developers by Planning Authorities to:
quantify development impacts on biodiversity;
compensate for all losses;
achieve a mandatory 10% net gain in biodiversity as a result of the development; and,
manage and maintain the biodiversity compensation for a period of thirty years.
These development impacts are measured in biodiversity credits. Although developers can generate credits within the boundaries of their development site, it is often impossible for them to deliver all of their mandatory credits onsite. Consequently, developers are required to purchase biodiversity credits offsite.
At the Environment Bank, we provide a solution by working with our landowners to design bespoke offset sites. Not only does the creation of offsite biodiversity credits ensure that effective nature conservation is delivered at scale, it provides a considerable income stream into private land, supporting the economy and communities.
The demand for offset sites is increasing in conjunction with the approaching royal assent of the Environment Bill, resulting in the early adoption of BNG policies within numerous LPAs. We are responding to this demand by identifying land and expanding our portfolio of suitable sites, outlining schemes ready to go in high demand local authority districts. Your land could be a part of this portfolio.
How Can Landowners Benefit?
Environment Bank offset schemes have been instigated across the country, providing funding for landowners to create or enhance habitat and manage their land under our 30-year land management contracts. These contracts are underpinned by a Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP). The BMP:
is compatible with the existing site management;
is landowner led with support from us;
is flexible, with realistic targets; and,
contributes to the functioning of the land as a business.
Our approach enables us to secure real gains for biodiversity in a way that harmonises with the landowner’s business aims, generating a real and guaranteed contribution towards income. Additional asset benefits can be funded and delivered in terms of natural capital, carbon and ecosystem services.
If you are one of our landowners, we work as your conservation advisor, assisting you throughout the contract term. Unlike many other conservation schemes, each management plan is designed and costed bespoke to each site, led by the people who know the land best (you), and supported by the guidance and experience of the Environment Bank team. This allows you to set the price and makes sure the scheme is financially sound.
You will be paid annually from an agreed payment plan that considers management activities, infrastructure maintenance, income foregone and RPI. This long-term finance increases the financial stability and resilience of the land. Offset funding does not conflict with existing income sources including Basic Payment Schemes and is often compatible with other funding sources such as woodland grants and agri-environment schemes. The key is that the land delivers additionality.
Offset sites can be created on land of any type and size provided that good conservation land management can create environmental uplift and enhanced value for wildlife. For example, farmland could be converted and restored to flower-rich grassland, or poor-quality woodlands could be better managed through appropriate interventions.
*A biodiversity offset project case study/October 20