Developments Exempt From Mandatory BNG

From January 2024 the new biodiversity net gain regulations will apply to many construction developments in the UK. Some smaller sites will not need to comply until April 2024. There are, however, some very specific types of development that will be totally exempt even after these dates, we have listed these below:

Developments Under the Thresholds

Developments falling below the Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) threshold indicate minimal impact, sparing priority habitats. Such projects affect less than 25 square metres or 5 metres linearly for habitats like hedgerows.

This is due to being too small to have a significant ecological impact, and for the extensive efforts of BNG—primarily the meticulous and regimented assessment over 30 years —it is calculated to be not worth it.

The vast, vast majority of developments, however, are larger than this and will wholly be affected by BNG and have to fulfil the process to ensure biodiversity contribution.

Self Build and Custom Build

Self build and custom housebuilding cover a wide spectrum, such as individuals constructing or managing their home’s construction, from start to finish, or commissioning their home with key design decisions, but built for immediate occupation.

The Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015, amended by the Housing and Planning Act 2016, provides a legal definition that treats both self-build and custom housebuilding as situations where individuals, associations, or persons working on their behalf build or complete houses for the occupants’ residence.

Applications from Householders

Householder applications can be exempt from mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG). A simplified process applies to small sites, utilising the Small Sites Biodiversity Metric, available for use on smaller sites with a tailored metric. 

The BNG requirement for small sites, considered de minimis, won’t be enforced until April 2024. Small sites, defined for BNG exemption, include residential projects with one to nine dwellings on a site under one hectare (or less than 0.5 hectares for an unknown number of dwellings) and non-residential projects with less than 1,000 square metres of floor space or a site area under one hectare. 

This approach encourages habitat creation, balancing conservation goals with practical considerations for smaller developments and where it is worth the large efforts for the small areas of environmental conservation achieved.

High Speed Rail Network

High-speed rail projects and related developments are exempt from Biodiversity Net Gain. This exception covers any project associated with the high-speed railway transport network as outlined in the High-Speed Rail (Preparation) Act 2013.

It acknowledges the unique characteristics and significance of these developments in the realm of transportation infrastructure and provides the public with dependable daily transport.

BNG makes planning processes onerous and convoluted as a national challenge to achieve our crucial environmental goal. This would take too long for rail networks, however, so they will continue to foster efficient transportation solutions without the dense obligation of biodiversity net gain requirements.

Sites Built Specifically For BNG

Another exemption from mandatory BNG are development sites whose sole purpose is to fulfil the BNG objective of another primary development site. This is a simple exemption in place to prevent a perpetual cycle of BNG implementation. 

In order for the primary development site to attain their planning permission, they have to cultivate a viable plan to source and improve a site to meet the 10% objective.

If this secondary site came with its own set of BNG regulations, the onerous process would unnecessarily extend. BNG sites have a pure purpose of environmental restoration and conservation, so are already achieving the objective within themselves. 

Smaller Sites until April 2024

From late January 2024 onwards, the only people affected by BNG are major sites and developments. This is with the understanding that these groups have more financial power and internal capability to take on the new legislation without much of a slowdown.

New environmental solutions such as Gaia are in place to aid the BNG transition, alongside the publicly available documents and guidelines. With this help, companies can smoothly attain the correct resources to meet the BNG objective and continue with their developmental projects.

BNG is trickling into mainstream discourse, and by April companies will have been getting used to it for months hence it should be common knowledge. With the government’s prolonged implementation, smaller sites can prepare to plan for the policy and the extended planning required to obtain permission. 

Additionally, the delay for smaller sites recognizes the potential workload increase for planning authorities, ensuring they can efficiently handle the incorporation of biodiversity gain plans into planning applications.

By acknowledging the challenges posed by varying project scales within the development landscape, this rollout aims to streamline the integration of BNG across the sector and enhance overall effectiveness in achieving biodiversity goals.

More Information:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *