How to Register Land as a BNG Site

Registering land as a Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) site is a way for BNG sites to officialise themselves on a public record. It costs £639, and the register went live on 12th February 2024. Guided by Natural England and Defra, they have now begun approving sites, providing reference numbers ands 

This is for off-site BNG, when adequate ecological enhancements at the site cannot be delivered. The third and final option after this is biodiversity credits. 

Before registering, a landowner must make sure they have completed all necessary documentation and have various legal documents in place. This guide will provide an overview of Biodiversity Net Gain and the role of the Biodiversity Site Register, navigate through the necessary steps, documentation, and considerations required to successfully register your land as a BNG site.

What is the Biodiversity Net Gain Register?

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) has become mandatory in 2024 for the vast majority of all developments in the UK, mandatory for major sites in January, and smaller sites in April. The policy reshapes the nature of development projects and their role in environmental action.

BNG mandates that developers, in order to be granted permission to build from their local planning agency, must now contribute 10% towards Britain’s net biodiversity. 

This is a way that environmentally harmful development can continue, in a way that leaves the environment better than before. This gives us a chance to challenge the prolonged decline of our natural biodiversity and lessens the risk of animal extinction and habitat destruction. 

A biodiversity unit is a piece of land on which site biodiversity value has been measured. Developers, now aware of how much biodiversity loss their development plans will do, can buy specific units that offer a biodiversity value increase that, after the 30 year mandated period, will result in a 10% biodiversity gain.

Ideally, on-site biodiversity would be achieved as the best option to go for. This is when the development site has enough space to make up for the loss on-site. With this route, the developer will think about incorporating green infrastructure and spaces for wildlife into their builds to achieve the 10% objective.

If on-site BNG is not feasible, the developers must then consider off-site BNG, an external specific site for enhancing biodiversity. Developers can source biodiversity units on Gaia’s BNG Unit Marketplace. They can select ones that will, for at least 30 years duration, result in a 10% gain that more than compensates for the environmental harm from development.

This is where the Biodiversity Gain Sites Register comes in—landowners getting involved in BNG might employ ecologists to complete their baseline assessment, HMMP (Habitat Management and Monitoring Plan), send this to their LPAs (Local Planning Authorities) for municipal planning approval, and submit this to go on the Biodiversity Gain Sites Register. This is an official public record of all BNG sites that developers can choose from. 


The sun shining through trees

Title Deeds or Lease Agreement

To register on the Biodiversity Net Gain Register, the landowner has to provide official documentation that validates their ownership of the land. This is a title deed or lease agreement, highlighting that the owner is able to commit to the biodiversity enhancements as they have full control and claim over the area.

To commit to the 30 years the landowners must obtain a legal agreement that secures the land in their claim for at least 30 years, so the developer can trust that their development will meet the mandated gain of 10% over the tri-decade period.

Written Authorisation From the Landowner or Leaseholder

Beyond showing ownership of the land, another requirement is a written form of authorisation from the leaseholder or landholder, especially if the applicant is not the direct owner. This is consent provided by the application that ensures parties are all aware of the biodiversity commitments and improvements of the land.

This confirms the application’s concrete legitimacy. It’s a way to avoid legal complications down the line, clearly outlining that the proposed biodiversity agreements are well supported by the stakeholders of the land.

A Document That Shows the Land Boundary

A document showing the land boundary is a critical component when registering a site for biodiversity net gain.

This document, often a map or detailed drawing, precisely outlines the physical limits of the property in question. It is essential for accurately defining the area where biodiversity enhancements will be made, ensuring there is no ambiguity about the extent of the land.

This clarity is crucial for legal and planning purposes, helping to prevent disputes over land ownership or the scope of environmental commitments. By clearly demarcating the land, stakeholders can efficiently manage and monitor biodiversity improvements across the outlined time scale.

Planning Obligation (Section 106 Agreement) or Conservation Covenant

A planning obligation is a further legally binding agreement that ensures both the landowners and the developer will commit to increasing biodiversity throughout the time. The planning commitment must be outlined in committed agreements.

A Section 106 is tied in with the planning permission and negotiated through the Local Planning Authority, mandating the planned ecological improvements. A Conservation Covenant is a more flexible approach involving agreements between a responsible body and the landlord to manage the biodiversity measurement over 30 years. This ecological conservation agreement fosters the development of new habitats, and managers of natural lands will aid in the restoration of natural habitats.

Habitat Management and Monitoring Plan 

This is a critical document that comes after the baseline assessment, detailing the management and monitoring of habitats.

It includes extensive ecological recordings of the land, and calculates the land’s capacity for biodiversity gain and environmental improvement. This is usually completed by the help of ecologists, resulting in a plan for enhancing biodiversity. This contains crucial specifics about the units of biodiversity that developers seeking a site dedicated to biodiversity enhancement will need to be aware of before purchasing. 

It details the management plans and monitoring protocols that will ensure the biodiversity gains are routinely assessed and on target so the 10% can be met.

Statutory Biodiversity Metric Tool Calculations 

The Biodiversity Metric Tool is a standardised measurement method that quantifies the biodiversity values before and after development. The unit of biodiversity measurement ensures that losses are offset either on-site or off-site and enhances the local environment after 30 years.  

The most updated tool is version 4.0, and guides developers in conservation efforts with one streamlined method of measurement to foster a seamless transition into the integration of the new policy.

Local Land Charge Search Certificate

Another requirement of submitting to the Biodiversity Gain Sites Register is the Local Land Charge Search Certificate, a legal document in the property transaction process when registering land. 

It details conservation areas, planning permissions, tree preservation orders or any other specific charges and restrictions for a piece of land. This is so prospective buyers or developers can be aware of any constraints before they take action.

Reasons to Register Your Land

Though the price of £639, land registration is highly beneficial for landowners ready to commit to long-term BNG. This demonstrates a clear dedication to sustainability and conservation, while enhancing the appeal of the land by having it on an officialised public register.

In-line BNG is fantastic for the environment but remains legally mandated biodiversity, so the register acts as a way to officialise the units and portray transparency with ease. The register of biodiversity enhancement sites should be considered by all landowners.

This can attract positive attention from groups, communities, authorities and sites, potentially encouraging financial incentives room for development within projects.

Useful Resources

Leave a Reply

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