Biodiversity Net Gain Consultation
Our Safety, Health & Environment Director Lauren Darby led the response to the Defra consultation on the implementation on Mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) for development.
BNG is an approach to development, and/or land management, which aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was beforehand.
BCC’s response focused on how proposals will impact our members’ quarry developments, including the requirement of at least a 10 per cent BNG increase from the pre-development biodiversity value.
We support the implementation of Mandatory Biodiversity Net gain (BNG) and recognise the benefits to biodiversity this will bring.
Clay extraction in the UK is an environmentally responsible open quarrying activity which takes place over many decades. There are strict regulatory and planning requirements during the different phases of development, from extraction through to restoration. Long-term quarry restoration plans are in place (agreed through the planning process), which enhance future biodiversity and landscape restoration.
BCC’s members believe the implementation of BNG regulations are a positive step to recognise the contribution that quarrying can make. However, care must be taken over the design of the policy and associated guidance as there is the risk that long term, phased developments, such as quarries, will be disadvantaged and biodiversity benefits would either not be recognised, or realised.
The creation of suitable guidance, clearly setting out how BNG should be applied to minerals development, will be critical in ensuring the new regime works in practice for this type of development.
We note that the Metric tool is designed for short term developments such as house building and we strongly believe that it should be modified to include adjustable values to reflect long term, phased minerals development.
BCC is concerned that quarrying development could be ‘penalised’ and that there is the potential for perverse outcomes due to the design of the Metric, which could ultimately lead to significant costs for developers and poorer outcomes for biodiversity. Modifying the Metric for minerals development would provide more certainty for Mineral Planning Authorities, as well as applicants for mineral extraction.