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Biodiversity Net Gain Guidance for applicants – The council has published revised draft guidance for applicants on the implementation of Biodiversity Net Gain. The latest draft guidance follows the publication of the initial draft which underwent a period of public consultation. The guidance can be accessed here.

Lancashire Local Nature Recovery Strategy – consultation seeking experiences and views about Lancashire's natural environment and local environmental issues. The consultation period closes 31 March 2024. Details can be found here.

Biodiversity Duty – the council as the local planning authority has now published its first report into how we are meeting the objective of conserving and enhancing biodiversity. The report can be accessed here.

BNG – Strategic Significance – to assist applicants with the completion of the BNG metric, the council has mapped sites it considers to have a high strategic significance. The map can be accessed here.

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)

What is BNG?

BNG has been introduced by The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as amended by The Environment Act 2021.

Biodiversity means ‘biological diversity’, that is the variety of all life on Earth. It includes all species of animals and plants – everything that is alive on our planet.

For the purposes of BNG, habitat is used as a proxy for biodiversity.

Therefore Biodiversity Net Gain = habitat net gain

A habitat is the natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism.

The basic idea behind BNG is that the post development environment is required to be in a measurably better state than the pre-development environment.

Therefore BNG means that habitats must be left in a measurably better state than they were before the development. For developments where BNG applies (there are exclusions) it is a legal requirement that the post development habitat value must be at least 10% higher than the pre-development value (the pre-development value is known as the baseline).

For example if a site has a baseline value of 50 biodiversity units, BNG = 10% = 5 units therefore the post development biodiversity value MUST be at least 55 units.

Biodiversity value is calculated by a statutory metric – a series of Excel spreadsheets – which MUST be used to accompany those planning applications where BNG is a legal requirement.

BNG applies to major developments submitted to the LPA on or after 12 February 2024 and on or after 2 April 2024 for minor developments (note that some types of development do not need to meet the statutory requirement for BNG but will still need to be consistent with local and national planning policy).

The legal requirement to meet the minimum 10% BNG requirement can be met on-site, off-site, by purchasing biodiversity units from a habitat bank or purchasing statutory biodiversity credits from the government (which is a last resort option), or a combination of these approaches.

BNG Guidance for Applicants - Revised Draft March 2024

The council has produced a BNG Guidance for Applicants that explains BNG and the implications for submitting planning applications.

This is prior to the latest phase of the government’s roll out of BNG whereby applications for minor development on and after the 2 April 2024 will have to meet the statutory minimum 10% biodiversity net gain (unless of a development type exempted). 

The initial draft guidance document underwent public consultation between February and March 2024. The revised draft takes into account comments received and will be subject to a formal process of approval. 

Applicants for major and minor development are strongly advised to read the guidance before submitting an application.

The guidance is available here.

If you have any queries about the guidance, please contact the planning policy team at Alternatively you can call a member of the team on 01253 887231.

The government has also produced guidance to assist those involved in delivering BNG as landowners, applicants, local planning authorities and developers. This guidance – which may be updated by the government as and when necessary - can be found here.

BNG - Strategic Significance

To complete the BNG statutory metric, you need to know if the site in question (this may be the development site or the location of any off-site provision, or both) is strategically significant. Wyre council has produced an interactive map of sites considered to have HIGH strategic significance based on environmental designations and should be scored accordingly. The designations are:

  • Ancient Tree Inventory
  • Ancient Woodland
  • Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)
  • Special Protection Areas (SPA)
  • Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ)
  • Biological Heritage Sites (BHSs) designated by Lancashire County Council
  • Sits of Special Scientific Importance (SSSIs)
  • Ramsar Sites

The majority of the above sites are identified on the Wyre Local Plan 2031 Policies Map and as part of the 2024 Green Infrastructure Audit.

The draft Guidance for Applicants provides more information on applying strategic significance.

Biodiversity Duty

Local planning authorities (LPAs) are required by law to demonstrate how they are complying with the biodiversity duty. The duty is set out in The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 as amended by The Environment Act 2021. The duty requires local planning authorities to meet the objective of conserving and enhancing biodiversity.

Biodiversity Duty 1 January 2024

In line with the legislation, Wyre council as the Local Planning Authority has published its first consideration of how it is meeting the duty. The report, which can be found here, describes how Wyre LPA is meeting the duty now and how it plans to meet the duty in the coming years. It is intended that the document will be updated on an annual basis, looking back at actions undertaken over the previous 12 months and ahead to the following five years. It is intended to publish the annual report as soon as possible after the 1 January base date each year.

Lancashire Local Nature Recovery Strategy

Lancashire County Council has been asked by the government to develop a Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS) for Lancashire including the unitary authorities of Blackburn-with-Darwen and Blackpool. A LNRS is designed to help reverse the national decline in biodiversity. It aims to: 

  • deliver environmental benefits and help to meet national environmental objectives and targets; and
  • drive action to help nature

The whole of England will eventually be covered by LNRSs. All LNRSs must contain a statement of biodiversity priorities and local habitat map. The government intends for LNRSs to inform the local planning process. Lancashire County Council has launched a public consultation (open until 31 March) seeking experiences and views about Lancashire's natural environment and the biggest environmental issues we face locally. Details of the LNRS process in Lancashire and the current public consultation can be found here.

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