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Protecting the natural environment

by Cathy Sheel

The requirement for developers to improve the biodiversity of an area when planning developments was highlighted to members of Knowsley’s Climate Emergency Scrutiny Committee.

Committee members heard that The Environment Act 2021 has introduced a new mandatory requirement via the planning system – called Biodiversity Net Gain. This will ensure that new developments increase biodiversity in an area by a minimum of 10% and make improvements to the natural environment.

A ‘net gain’ means that any habitat lost during a development will need to be replaced by a similar, or higher quality, habitat with an increase of 10%. For example, if 100 trees were cut down then a developer would need to plant 110 trees of the same quality and manage them for at least 30 years.

Developers will be required to deliver 10% Biodiversity Net Gain from January 2024 onwards and applications for small sites from April 2024. Implementation for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects is planned for 2025.

Developers will be required to provide 10% Biodiversity Net Gain on site and where this is not possible it will need to be provided offsite as close to the original habitat as possible. They will also be able to purchase biodiversity credits in the form of habitat creation/enhancements which could take place in Knowsley’s parks and green spaces.

Cllr Shelley Powell, Knowsley’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods said: “These new regulations will ensure we protect the biodiversity of our communities and support our Climate Emergency actions. Biodiversity Net Gain will potentially provide an opportunity for Knowsley to undertake habitat creation and enhancement works on sites across the borough and ensure they are secured and maintained in an improved state for years to come.”