October 2020: Aspect Ecology Director Alistair Baxter, recently presented evidence in respect of biodiversity matters at a site proposed for distribution, warehousing and offices in Milton Keynes. Issues centred on the assessment and treatment of lowland meadow Priority Habitat and the delivery of Biodiversity Net Gain. In respect of the latter, Aspect Ecology partnered with the Environment Bank to identify potential offset sites and the necessary offset contribution. Alistair set out evidence why a) high distinctiveness Priority Habitats can be assessed and compensation calculated under the Defra 2.0 metric; b) it is not necessary to confirm the location of the offset site at the outline stage and that c) the contribution should be capped at £1.2 million to meet local policy requirements, where net gain should be delivered ‘where possible’, as opposed to the level of 10% within emerging legislation in the form of the Environment Bill. The Inspector agreed with Alistair’s evidence and commented specifically that whilst the Environment Bill is a material consideration, it is not yet law, and greater weight should be attached to adopted local policy.
The full Inspector’s decision can be found here
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