Property professionals gathered in Bournemouth to hear expert insight on soon-to-be-mandatory rules for biodiversity protection in land development.
A ‘lunch and learn’ seminar, held by property finance specialist MSP Capital and law firm Trethowans, brought developers, valuers, surveyors and lenders together at AFC Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium.
The key focus was the imminent introduction of a government requirement to provide ten per cent biodiversity net gain (BNG) on new housing and commercial developments.
BNG is a concept designed to enhance sustainability and natural habitats by ensuring a nature-positive approach to planning.
Sarah Humphrey, a Partner in Commercial Property at Trethowans, told the seminar that a ten per cent increase in BNG would be ‘compulsory for the majority of medium-sized developments in England by November 2023 and for small developments from April 2024’.
And despite industry calls for more detail from government on the specifics of the new rules, she did not foresee any delay in implementation at this stage.
Sarah said: “This is a challenging time for developers and planning authorities with careful consideration needed of the approved steps to take to improve biodiversity.
“Unless the developer of a site can clearly show how biodiversity will be enhanced on it by ten per cent or more, they will have to demonstrate BNG somewhere else by entering an agreement with a landowner or buying credits from a national BNG register.”
Sarah said that if developers cannot avoid loss of habitat on site, they will have to offer like-for-like replacement based on a metric developed by the Department of
Food and Rural Affairs or otherwise consider off-site BNG or the statutory credit route.
“We still await government detail on all the rules,” she said, adding: “We know BNG must be secured for 30 years to qualify and that activities such as sustainable drainage, river basin management and works to provide habitat improvement can count towards the ten per cent – but not everything is included.”
Commenting on the November introduction, Chris Wright, MSP Capital’s Associate Director of Valuation, said: “Developers need to think about how best to get ready for 10% BNG. Some are further ahead than others on preparing for this but for everyone the clock is ticking.”
The seminar was the first activity to be held under MSP Capital’s new environmental, social and governance strategy Foundations for Better Futures.
Its aim is to support ‘people, community, industry and environment’ and lay the groundwork for future action.
Among the attendees at the seminar was property valuer Mark Fox, Director of Foxglove Property Consultants, which has offices in Shaftesbury and London.
Mark said: “It was forward-thinking of MSP Capital to hold this event. The content was interesting and useful and it was a great networking opportunity too.”