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Developers to be made to show biodiversity gains or face fines

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Developers are to be made to demonstrate how their proposals have an environmental “net gain” or face fines, environment secretary Michael Gove has announced.

When planning applications are submitted, developers will have to show how they will improve the biodiversity of an area such as through the creation of green corridors, planting more trees, or forming local nature spaces.

While some developers have already been following a biodiversity net gain approach voluntarily, the proposed standardised, mandatory approach is aimed at providing clarity and certainty on how to improve the environment through development.

A Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs consultation document said the proposals cover “all new developments that results in loss or degradation of habitat, including buildings such as housing, offices, shops, business space and local infrastructure.”

However, any development that results in “negligible loss or degradation of habitat, for instance material change of use of or alterations to buildings and house extensions, would fall out of scope”. The government is also considering whether any sites – such as small and brownfield sites – should be exempt from the rules.

Nationally significant infrastructure projects will, however, definitely fall out of scope of these proposals which are subject to consultation between now and 10 February.

Mr Gove said: “Mandating biodiversity net gain puts the environment at the heart of planning and development. This will not only create better places for people to live and work, but ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations.”

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