Following Aspect Ecology’s evidence, appeal inspector confirms that a 10% biodiversity net gain should be assigned positive weight in the planning balance

September 2022

Senior Director Alistair Baxter recently presented expert evidence at a planning inquiry in regard to a residential proposal in Bedfordshire. Alistair’s evidence confirmed to the Inspector that the proposals were capable of achieving at least a 10% biodiversity net gain (BNG).

Following a consideration of all of the evidence by the Inspector, a positive decision to allow the appeal has been issued. Importantly the Inspector confirms that “The proposed 10% BNG goes beyond the minimum requirement to simply provide ‘a’ net gain, as set out in the Framework and Policy EE2 of the LP. I place moderate positive weight on this element of the proposal”. This is a very helpful decision as it serves to correct erroneous arguments presented by some consultees who seek to make a case that no positive benefit should be assigned to the provision of a 10% biodiversity net gain, as this is what the forthcoming Environment Act will require for all sites. However, in making this point they overlook that the Act is not yet in force and hence there is no such current requirement. Hence a 10% net gain should be seen as a positive benefit, which this appeal decision helpfully confirms.

More details of the appeal can be found in the Inspector’s decision here.

NB: It is our view that even when the Environment Act is in force, a 10% gain provided by compliant proposals would continue to represent a ‘net gain’ and hence positive weight should continue to be assigned to this benefit.

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