The District Council looks to a greener future with Biodiversity Net Gain

Posted on: Tuesday, February 13, 2024

A huge milestone on the road to a greener future for Newark and Sherwood has been achieved as Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) for major developments set in from Monday 12 February 2024.

Large developments, such as housing estates and commercial properties, can have a detrimental impact on biodiversity. Biodiversity Net Gain makes sure these developments have measurably positive impact on biodiversity, compared to what was there before development to ensure the development improves rather than reduces the local natural environment.

As part of new Environment Act 2021 legislation, large development projects in the district will now be required to deliver a minimum BNG improvement of 10%. This is calculated via a measurement framework that accounts for the size, quality and type of the habitat at the construction site.

The required BNG should be prioritised for delivery within the development site but if this is not feasible the shortfall must be provided at off-site locations referred to as Biodiversity Gain Sites, also known as habitat banks.

Newark and Sherwood District Council recently agreed to recommendations outlining a proactive approach that will allow BNG within the district to move forward with clarity and efficiency. This included defining what significant enhancement within a development would be and how the strategic significance of habitats should be used in BNG calculations. This information is available on the District Council website:

One of the most exciting and important elements of the approved plans is a ‘Call for sites’ exercise. The Council is issuing a call to local landowners to identify land that might be suitable as a Biodiversity Gain Site and asking them to get in touch if they would be interested in getting involved. The Council will then aim to support landowners who have sites they are interested in developing for nature with the objective of then being able to sell biodiversity units to developers who have a shortfall in meeting their BNG requirements. It is important for a sufficient supply of these sites to be available within the district to minimise the chances of off-site BNG being located outside of the district. More information for interested landowners is available on the Council’s website:

The District Council has also agreed to make an application to be considered for a Responsible Body status, which will allow it to create conservation covenant agreements with landowners. Conservation covenants are intended to provide long-term conservation benefits for the public good and a key use will be to support the provision of BNG and allow the Council to be more flexible when entering agreements with landowners and increase the number of sites available.

Councillor Emma Oldham, Portfolio Holder for Biodiversity and Environmental Services at Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “This is a multi-factored approach and I’m proud of Newark and Sherwood District Council for the work we are doing to deliver BNG. Our plans hopefully will give clarity to developers, the planning and housing teams at the Council and ensure a proactive approach in managing and maximising the chances of meaningful biodiversity net gain delivery.”

“We want to do our best to ensure BNG remains close to the sites being developed and keeping the environmental enhancements within our district. I think these plans will help with enhancing our green spaces and also protect the biodiversity already thriving there”.

"We are just at the start of this Biodiversity Net Gain journey. As we embark on this new policy, we acknowledge the necessity of learning lessons and identifying areas for improvement. But it does signal a huge shift in the attitude towards biodiversity, and the reshaping our perceptions of development's role in preserving nature. By attributing value and agency to the natural world, I look forward to seeing how it inspires collaboration across professions and trades, which NSDC will be at the heart of.”

Councillor Matthew Spoors, Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Economic Development at Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “Moving forward with this plan is a wonderful chance for us to maximise opportunities to enhance, protect and restore biodiversity within the district, something that is a key focus of the District Council as outlined in our Community Plan.

“I look forward to seeing the results we can achieve with this approach as we move forward into a greener future for Newark and Sherwood.”