What is Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)?
Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is an approach to development that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was beforehand. It's part of a wider national government programme of strengthening Environmental Planning, and is something East Cambridgeshire District Council is fully committed to supporting. For a national overview of what BNG is all about, then this Biodiversity Net Gain guide (external link) by Natural England would be a good starting point.
Biodiversity Net Gain: our approach in East Cambridgeshire
East Cambridgeshire District Council reconfirmed in November 2022 its acknowledgement of the global biodiversity emergency we face. BNG is one way to help reverse the decline in nature, and our Biodiversity Net Gain: East Cambridgeshire (PDF) guide helps explain how we will deliver BNG in our district. The guide is intended to help explain to developers, local communities and all those interested in the development system what the approach of the Council is to implementing BNG, especially in the interim period before BNG becomes mandatory nationwide in late 2023. The guide also links to our Natural Environment Supplementary Planning Document, which establishes wider policies developers must follow to help support nature in our district.
The Council is stepping up its resources, including extra staffing, to help implement the new BNG requirements and maximise the benefits it can bring, for both people and for nature.
Bringing Developers and Landowners together
To make BNG a success will require a large number of organisations working together. Two especially important groups to make it a success are developers, who will need to provide the net gain, and landowners, who may have the right land for the net gain to take place on. We want to bring these two parties together more easily, and we hope to launch a register of large landowners interested in converting their land for biodiversity gain. Developers will be able to view that register, so gaining easy access to willing landowners. We are aiming to publish more details on this register soon.
Wider Nature Recovery in East Cambridgeshire
East Cambridgeshire District Council fully supports the Doubling Nature (external link) ambitions of Natural Cambridgeshire (external link), a vision which seeks to double the area of rich wildlife habitat and natural green space across Cambridgeshire. As part of our local contribution to that vision, we have launched an East Cambridgeshire Nature Recovery Network (PDF) document, which identifies nine Priority Areas in the district for landscape-scale action to support nature's recovery.
What Can I Do?
If you are a Parish Council, local business or landowner, why don't you establish a Local Nature Recovery action plan for your area or premises? For a host of tips on how to do this, please visit Natural Cambridgeshire's Local Nature Recovery Toolkit (external link)
If you are a homeowner or small landowner, there's lots of great, simple and cheap things you can do that would make a huge difference to help nature recover here in East Cambridgeshire. No matter how big or small your garden, or even if just a window ledge or patio, do visit the Wildlife Trust's Help Wildlife at Home (external link) page, with great ideas from bee hotels to hedgehog homes, as well as how to attract butterflies and birds to your garden.