Government Delays Biodiversity Net Gain Regulations Amidst Growing Concerns

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The delay of new environmental regulations, which mandate developers to contribute to wildlife habitat improvements, has been reported. The regulations, known as Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), a mandatory component of England’s planning system, were expected to be enacted in November. However, information sources within the government have revealed the introduction will not take place within the current year.

The holdup has been met with disappointment from environmental activists, while the government has assured its firm commitment to the policy and the imminent announcement of a fresh implementation timeline. The 2021 Environment Act approved the BNG policy to ensure that developers leave the environment in a noticeably better condition than prior to their interventions.

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This postponement follows weeks of political unrest over environmental policies. The government has been contemplating overruling the “nutrient neutrality” pollution regulations and diluting the guidelines for achieving net zero. The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), a body advocating for sustainable development, expressed that such procrastination will negatively impact green businesses.

The CEO of Wildlife & Countryside Link, Richard Benwell, voiced concern over the minimization of net gain to offset habitat damage from new development. The expected delay could potentially jeopardize the entire scheme’s foundation.

Moreover, developers have responded positively to the principles of biodiversity net gain, but there have been perceived gaps in government guidance. In Neil Jefferson, the Managing Director of the Home Builders Federation’s opinion, this may limit local authorities’ power to effectively manage the new obligations and further delay the planning process.

Under the new provisions, developers applying for planning permissions will be obliged to ensure a minimum 10% biodiversity gain, either on or off the location.

Moreover, environmentalists have valued biodiversity on a government-devised scale—ranging from native hedgerows and hay meadows to habitat-lite croplands and derelict land. The Wildlife Trusts demands a 20% gain and warns that any delays or dilutions will be detrimental to nature and instill uncertainty among developers.

Despite these concerns, the government remains strongly committed to BNG and has pledged more than £15m to help local councils prepare and hire specialists to oversee the scheme.

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