The site at Parkside Colliery, Merseyside was called in by the Secretary of State alongside two competing sites for consideration of proposals for 92,900 m2 of employment floorspace. The site is a former colliery, had been partly restored and is occupied by large areas of grassland, colonising scrub and woodland. A full Environmental Impact Assessment was undertaken to assess the proposals. Aspect Ecology was brought in to review the case at the inquiry stage led by Alistair Baxter (Senior Director). Upon reviewing the project we identified that no assessment of the biodiversity performance of the proposals had been undertaken and we recommended that a Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) assessment was included in evidence to demonstrate the environmental credentials of the proposal. This recommendation was taken up and following Aspect Ecology’s subsequent BNG assessment, a shortfall in post planning on-site biodiversity was identified and accordingly we recommended that offsite compensation was put forward to ensure a biodiversity net gain was achieved. In the short timeframe available Aspect Ecology was able to identify and secure an offsite partner to deliver new woodland habitat creation to ensure the proposals achieved a biodiversity a net gain. It is pleasing to see that the Inspector agreed with our calculations for the net gain achieved despite challenges from third parties on this point.
Details of the Secretary of State’s decision and the Inspector’s Report can be accessed here.
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