New rules regarding Biodiversity Net Gains

May 25, 2023
Author: Dan Wood
Dan acts as a commercial partner for a wide range of clients. Dan specialises in advising businesses in the agriculture sector.
Biodiversity net gains

New rules regarding biodiversity net gains have been announced by the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra). The main announcement is regarding a mandatory uplift of a 10% minimum biodiversity net gain (BNG). It is believed that this will be mandatory from November 2023 under the Town and Country Planning Act.

There are going to be some exemptions from this mandatory uplift including:

  • Householder applications
  • Small scale self-build
  • Custom housebuilding
  • Developments impacting habitats of an area below a threshold of 25m2, or 5m for linear habitats.
  • Biodiversity gains sites where habitats are being enhanced for wildlife.

 

What about smaller sites?

Furthermore, BNG requirements for smaller sites will not be mandatory until April 2024. This includes sites with less than 10 houses or 0.5 hectares.

Defra has also announced in there guidance that these rule changes provides an opportunity to combine BNG with nutrient neutrality mitigation.

 

Biodiversity gain plan

When putting together a planning application it is a requirement for applicants to include a biodiversity gain plan. It is believed that Defra will provide a template and further guidance on off-site offsetting in due course.

 

What does this mean for farmers?

Farmers should consider if they have any land which could be used as biodiversity net gain mitigation.

These new rules could present farmers with an opportunity to work with developers with as new policies look to incentivise farmers to work towards more environmentally focussed farming.

However, at this stage the process still looks complicated and more guidance for Defra is required to gain a better understanding. We would recommend seeking specialist advice if you are considering a Biodiversity gain plan.

 

How can we help?

At Hawsons we have a dedicated team of agriculture accountants at our offices in Sheffield, Doncaster and Northampton.

We understand that farming isn’t just a business; it’s a way of life.

The rural and agriculture sector is a specialist sector, with unique practices and conventions. We act for a significant number of arable farms and assist farming families in many matters specific to agriculture and farming. This includes tax, will planning and succession planning.

We have been able to assist our farming clients to add value to their businesses. We have advised on the financial and tax consequences of property development, green technologies and capital allowance planning. In particular, we can assist in the area of capital taxes planning. This is a significant issue for farmers following the increase in land values and the availability of development opportunities.

Dan Wood

Partner, Doncaster

dw@hawsons.co.uk

Free initial meeting

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