One tool made available to developers to overcome objections to developments on the grounds of loss of habitat is the concept of ‘Biodiversity Net Gain’.

This is a mechanism that allows developers to substitute habitats, i.e swap one piece of land for another, if they can show that the net effect on ecology and the environment is zero, or better, improved.

The process involves surveys and counting, assumptions about the behaviour of the swapped land, and an algorithmic approach to generate a single Biodiversity Net Gain value. This number can then be used as justification for the   developers’ actions.

Many have suspected that this is just a ruse by Government  to quell environmental campaigners, with little scientific backing or studies that stand up to rigorous examination.

In the case of the Tufa Field, the translocation was justified to the planning committee on the grounds of a 60% BNG.

A new study has just been published which effectively rubbishes BNG as a useful or meaningful way of protecting Biodiversity, or indeed the ecology of any environment.

One of our supporters has this to say

“ When planners tell you not to worry about the destruction of nature because they will ‘replicate’ nature elsewhere…ring any bells?! Well experts have been looking into this ecological ‘Net Gain’ for a range of developments (so, the state of habitats at the site before the development was constructed compared to the predicted state of these habitats after the development is completed). The results –  ‘substantial gaps between the real-world implementation of Net Gain and its idealised goals’. They found natural habitat is expected to decrease…
How much nature you promise to create on paper is vastly different from the nature that is actually saved/created once houses go up! Planners should listen to the experts. 🤨 “
This study not only removes one of the main planks supporting the planning approval for the Tufa Field destruction, but also serves as a warning to the Local Authority not to rely on such a measure from any developer in the future. No doubt this and similar studies , will be the precursor to renewed Judicial action when such a metric is deployed.