BPF calls for planning resources to boost biodiversity
The British Property Federation (BPF) has called for urgent action to bolster the resources of local authorities seeking to implement mandatory biodiversity net gain (BNG) requirements in England.
BNG, aimed at enhancing natural habitats and ensuring new developments have a positive impact on biodiversity, is set to become a pivotal part of the planning process. From February 12th, developers will be required to submit biodiversity gain plans for most projects. These plans must demonstrate a net gain of at least 10% in biodiversity and commit to maintaining this level for a minimum of 30 years. The rules will only apply in England, not the devolved regions of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
However, the BPF has voiced concerns regarding the preparedness of local authorities to assess BNG proposals. According to UK government research, only 5% of local planning authorities feel adequately equipped to scrutinize applications affecting biodiversity. Additionally, less than 10% believe their resources are sufficient to ensure compliance with the forthcoming regulations.
In response to these challenges, the BPF's 2024 election Manifesto, Building our Future, outlines proposals for reforming the planning system. Recommendations include enhanced government funding for local authority planning departments, higher fees for applicants in exchange for improved services, and the establishment of central talent pools to facilitate a more efficient response to major applications.
Rob Wall, assistant director at the BPF, said many developers were already delivering BNG but added: "The new mandatory BNG regulations will place an additional burden on already over-stretched local authority planning departments. This is why we are calling on the Government to set out a new long-term strategy for resourcing the planning system to ensure that planning departments have the capacity and capability to deliver on all front."