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New biodiversity development law comes into effect

Building on the greenbelt OPENGRAPH

The Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) law went onto the books this week, potentially the biggest change to planning regulations in decades, and possibly the first of its kind in the world.

It passed as part of the Environment Act to ensure wildlife habitats are left in a better state than they were before land development, and help to recover UK nature. All major housing developments must achieve at least 10% benefit for nature.

Under the new law, any commercial, industrial or housing development, must show a positive impact on biodiversity, compared to what was there before. It is particularly relevant to developers, local planners and land managers.

Improving the biodiversity of housing developments could take many forms, from the introduction of wildflowers, plants, pollinating insects to wildlife corridors and hedgehog preservation, for example.

In addition, the new BNG legislation should not only should have a view to improve the environment, but also aims to achieve “wider goals for human society, climate change, and sustainability.”

A new BNG site register will provide a collection of services, digital resources, and information to help developers and landowners to be BNG compliant, and for the wider public to be aware of developments. It also allows participating landowners to register their site, developers to find unallocated habitat enhancements and local planners view these enhancements to inform their plans.

The register has been a collaborative effort to bring together different groups to build and test the guidance. Over 275 hours of user research were completed in the last few years, while working with hundreds of groups whether they are local authorities, landowners, developers or scientists.

“We want to thank every stakeholder who has taken part. Their passion and willingness to share knowledge, expertise and most importantly their time has helped us develop better guidance and services for those who will need to use them from day one,” the team behind the register said in a statement.

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