Research and analysis

Impact assessment opinion: biodiversity offsetting

Red-rated evaluation of Defra impact assessment of biodiversity offsetting requirements in planning policy



Proposal [extracted from impact assessment]

The proposals intend to improve the delivery of planning policy requirements relating to biodiversity in a cost-effective way, by:

  • providing a potentially faster and more consistent approach to assessing the impact of the development on biodiversity;
  • agreeing the mitigation and compensation requirements;
  • and demonstrating compliance using a standardised system.

In doing so it is hoped that the use of offsetting will allow developers to routinely consider offsetting as part of their development planning.

Factors contributing to rating of the RPC opinion

The impact assessment (IA), as drafted, does not contain a clear One-In,Two-Out assessment. It is unclear why the policy is considered to be out of scope of One-in, Two-out, as potential familiarisation costs to business, on all options,have been identified in the IA. The IA does not make use of any evidence from the recent pilots to assess the likely effect of the monitoring and enforcement practices of local authorities.

This IA received a red rating, meaning ‘not fit for purpose’.

The Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) gives independent advice to government on the quality of analysis supporting new regulations.

Following scrutiny of an IA carried out prior to a regulatory proposal, the RPC provides an ‘opinion’ on the quality of analysis and evidence presented in the IA. This opinion then informs the decisions of ministers as to whether they proceed or not with the proposal.

In a small number of instances departments have chosen to proceed with an IA which has received a red rating from the RPC.