Biodiversity Accounting

The Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Natural Environment Partnership is working with its partners to put into place a robust and transparent scheme for ensuring that development results in net biodiversity gains across the Bucks and MK area.

We are working on:

  • ensuring that all development minimises impacts on biodiversity as a priority, and only seeks offsite-offsets for biodiversity losses once all opportunities on-site have been exhausted
  • setting up the mechanisms of the scheme to ensure that any biodiversity offsets required by development are located according to biodiversity priorities and needs across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes. This includes setting up a NEP-run Expert Technical Advisory Panel to regularly review biodiversity offset requirements and recommend to local authorities the best available match with available biodiversity net gain schemes to achieve biodiversity objectives and priorities across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes. The Panel will take into account in their offset site selection, criteria that are currently being finalised, although likely to include (alongside compliance with s106 obligations / other relevant agreement that the offset is linked to): alignment with local biodiversity priorities; proximity to area of loss; the location, habitat type and units available in local offset schemes; project lifespan; additionality; and deliverability
  • a plain-English “how to” guide as to how the scheme works
  • liaising with land-owners to determine whether there are opportunities for net gain offset schemes on their land

In March 2020, the NEP Board approved a model “Supplementary Planning Document” (SPD) that sets out the detailed workings of the approach and is available for local authorities to use to tailor to their Local Plans and publicly consult on. This was updated and released in February 2021 to make certain parts of the SPD clearer, to reflect changes in national policy developments and the latest local thinking by experts. Version 2 of the NEP’s Supplementary Planning Document is now available.

Download our model Supplementary Planning Document, version 2, here

In line with the NEP’s “model” SPD, we would recommend using the latest version of the Warwickshire County Council metric for biodiversity impact assessment calculations until the Defra metric 3.0 (or locally equivalent alternative) is available. The latest version of the Warwickshire County Council metric, as well as accompanying guidance on its use and other background documents and evidence, can be found on the Warwickshire County Council website [external link].

In February 2021, the NEP Board approved the biodiversity accounting working group’s report to produce a map, produced with Warwickshire County Council, for use by the Expert Technical Panel, (importantly, however, this would be used as guidance and alongside other criteria), to assist with their selection of biodiversity offset schemes to be supported through developer contributions in cases where offsetting is needed. The full report includes the methodology followed, and the resulting guidance map, Map 10, is on page 22. The mapping work aims to prioritise, where possible, and in consideration with other criteria, offsetting within the Biodiversity Opportunity Areas primarily, otherwise in areas that buffer them, or provide linkages within and between them.

Download the Priority Offsetting Mapping Report here.

 

Further details about the workings of the NEP-designed scheme will be released when they are finalised and NEP-approved.