Press release

New developments to deliver for people and nature

'Biodiversity Net Gain’ to be introduced from November helping deliver the nature friendly homes of the future

A man jogs past a green space and water next to new flats

Kidbrooke Village which is being developed by Berkeley Homes, adopted the Biodiversity Net Gain principles on a voluntary basis. The site includes species-rich meadows and wetland with benefits for wildlife and local residents alike.

New housing, commercial and infrastructure developments are set to be “nature positive” from November onwards, the government announced today (21 February), with the plans backed by £16 million of funding for Local Planning Authorities and guidance to support the new approach.

New developments will be delivered in a way which protects and enhances nature, while ensuring England gets the high quality homes it needs.

Developers in England will be required to deliver 10% “Biodiversity Net Gain” when building new housing, industrial or commercial developments so there is a positive benefit for nature.

This means they will have to assess the type of habitat affected and its condition before submitting plans to the local planning authority detailing how they will deliver a 10% benefit for nature.

Biodiversity Net Gain is a key part of the government’s commitment to halt species decline by 2030 and was introduced into legislation through the world-leading Environment Act.

The information published today will provide certainty to developers ahead of the new approach coming into effect later in the year, and help them enhance habitats to ensure they are left in a measurably better state than they were pre-development. Small sites will be subject to a longer transition period until April 2024, and exemptions have been made for developments such as self-build homes to ensure implementation is targeted towards developments which would generate the most impact.

Developers will be required to demonstrate how they are replacing and improving biodiversity, with “biodiversity metric trading” rules requiring that any habitat affected within the boundary is replaced on a ‘like for like’ or ‘like for better’ principle.

Biodiversity improvements on-site will be encouraged, but in circumstances where they are not possible, developers will be able to pay for improvements on other sites elsewhere by purchasing “units” via a private, off-site market. A government-run statutory credit scheme is being set up which developers will be able to access as a last resort.

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey said:

Biodiversity Net Gain will ensure new developments work for both wildlife and people by creating nature-rich places whilst ensuring that communities get the new homes they need.

We will continue to support and work with developers and planning authorities ahead of the introduction of Biodiversity Net Gain. We want to help them ensure the developments of the future enhance biodiversity by creating thriving places for plants and wildlife, as outlined under our pioneering Environmental Improvement Plan.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said:

Biodiversity is a vital part of our mission to create vibrant, green places that people are proud to call home.

We want to make sure developers enrich local wildlife when delivering new homes and infrastructure across the country.

This new requirement alongside our Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will do just that, helping to protect our natural environment for generations to come.

Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England, said:

For decades Nature has been diminishing around us at an alarming rate, with England one of the most nature depleted countries on earth. We need significant, collaborative action to reverse this decline and put nature on the road to recovery.

There are many good examples of biodiversity net gain in action already with many developers already embracing it. We will continue to support developers, land managers and local authorities to create sustainable developments that both enhance nature and provide beautiful and healthy places for people to live.

Rob Perrins, Chief Executive, Berkeley Group, said:

Biodiversity net gain will be an important step forward for our industry, ensuring new developments support nature’s recovery and create the healthy and sustainable places local communities need. Putting this into practice on 49 sites has been a hugely positive experience for Berkeley Group and we know that the benefits far outweighed the challenges involved.

Nicola Johansen, Group Biodiversity Manager at Redrow, said:

As housebuilders, we have a fantastic opportunity to protect and enhance the biodiversity within our communities. We welcome the introduction of Biodiversity Net Gain, something that Redrow has been championing for a number of years across our developments as part of our wider Nature for People strategy and placemaking principles.

When embraced, net gain not only benefits nature, but also the wellbeing of customers and local communities who live near and enjoy these nature-rich spaces. We eagerly await the details of the secondary legislation to enable us to continue our preparations effectively.

How Biodiversity Net Gain is enforced and delivered has been subject to a consultation on regulations and implementation. In the response published today, the government confirmed:

  • £16 million funding will allow Local Planning Authorities with planning oversight to expand resource and upskill teams, including ecologists. This will increase their capacity to work with developers and communities to help secure a long-lasting legacy for nature.
  • A phased introduction for Biodiversity Net Gain, with small sites having until April 2024 to comply with the regulations. This extension will give Local Planning Authorities and smaller developers more time to prepare and apply best practice from activity on major development sites.
  • Details of a statutory credit scheme – a last resort option for Biodiversity Net Gain’ delivery, which will be set up to prevent delays in the planning system. In order to buy credits, developers will have to demonstrate they cannot deliver habitat onsite, or via the off-site market. The proceeds will be invested in habitat creation.
  • Draft legislation is due to be published later in 2023, with further stakeholder engagement taking place on implementation before Biodiversity Net Gain becomes mandatory in November.

The government has also published guidance today for land managers who wish to sell to the Biodiversity Net Gain market. This provides information on combining environmental payments with Biodiversity Net Gain, including nutrient mitigation credits, grant payments or selling to other voluntary markets (e.g. carbon markets).

These proposals will achieve better outcomes for nature and people, with the potential for millions of pounds to be invested in environmental impact mitigation by developers every year.

Further information:

  • We are releasing the government response to the consultation on Biodiversity Net Gain regulations and implementation. The response outlines how biodiversity net gain will work in practice, as well as detailing the requirement that we will set through secondary legislation.
  • Small sites are defined for the purpose of the Biodiversity Net Gain exemption as:

(i) for residential: where the number of dwellings to be provided is between one and nine inclusive on a site having an area of less than one hectare, or where the number of dwellings to be provided is not known, a site area of less than 0.5 hectares

(ii) For non-residential: where the floor space to be created is less than 1,000 square metres OR where the site area is less than one hectare

  • The guidance outlines information on combining environmental payments with Biodiversity Net Gain, including nutrient mitigation credits, grant payments or selling to other voluntary markets (e.g., carbon markets). Guidance on what actions land managers can take ahead of November 2023 to prepare for selling biodiversity units (including baselining habitat and thinking about how to price units) is also included.
  • We will be publishing other guidance in phases throughout Spring. This guidance will cover a diverse range of topics for key stakeholders, including the securing of biodiversity gain sites and management, monitoring, and reporting. To read more about the guidance, visit:

Case study:

  • Kidbrooke Village is being developed by Berkeley Homes on the site of the former Ferrier Estate, and lies on the catchment of the River Quaggy just south of the A2 in south-east London.
  • Over 4,800 new homes will be built at the site by 2030, along with Cator Park - 20 hectares of parkland creating a multi-functional green corridor linking Sutcliffe Park to the south with the nature reserves at Kidbrooke Green and the Trust’s Birdbrook in the north.
  • To ensure a biodiversity net gain, the new landscaping was implemented in 2018 (following a consented scheme), including species-rich meadows and wetland with benefits for wildlife and local residents alike.
  • Designing and implementing biodiversity net gain goes hand in hand with delivering a climate-change resilient development and in London will typically include habitat creation, diverse naturalistic planting, biodiverse sustainable urban drainage systems and green roofs, and wildlife features such as swift bricks and bee hotels.
Published 21 February 2023