More than 500 delegates from across the public, private and voluntary sectors took part in a major conference yesterday (March 2) exploring biodiversity net gain, which becomes mandatory on many homebuilding projects later this year.
The event, co-hosted by Berkeley Group, Natural England and the Local Government Association, aimed to prepare development and local authority professionals for this important change and to generate debate around the challenges and opportunities ahead.
DEFRA’s biodiversity net gain policy will require a measurable increase of at least 10% in the value of a development site’s natural habitats once the work is complete and the landscape matures.
Berkeley Group has been doing this voluntarily since 2016 and has so far put 49 sites into planning with a commitment to enhance on-site biodiversity. Together, these projects will deliver more than 500 acres of new or improved natural habitats, most of which are in urban communities where accessible green space is most needed.
Conferences speakers included:
- Marian Spain, Chief Executive, Natural England
- Joanna Averley, Chief Planner, Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
- Tony Juniper CBE, Chair, Natural England (Chair)
- Shirley Rodrigues, London Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Greater London Authority
- Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader, Wiltshire Council
- Mayor Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney, London Borough of Hackney
- Rachel Fisher, Deputy Director for Land Use Policy, DEFRA
- Rob Perrins, Chief Executive, Berkeley Group
Rob Perrins, Berkeley Group Chief Executive, said:
“We’re passionate about regenerating underused brownfield sites to create the welcoming and sustainable places local communities need. Embracing biodiversity net gain has helped us to achieve this goal and the beautiful natural landscapes we’re now creating around our homes speak for themselves.
“We’re delighted so many people took advantage of this conference to share learning and knowledge, and we will continue to work constructively with all involved to ensure that biodiversity net gain is a success on large scale brownfield regeneration sites, which need to have a separate planning class which reflects how challenging these projects are to bring forward and deliver.”
Marian Spain, Natural England Chief Executive, said:
“It was a pleasure to see cross-sector working at its finest, involving Natural England, the private sector, local Government, and various other public sector and NGO organisations. What was clear on the day was how, generally, everyone was committed to making BNG work and deliver as much as possible for people and for nature. So let's continue the conversation by engaging the wider industry that weren't at the Biodiversity Net Gain Conference and, together, build momentum and build from strength. Congratulations on such a fantastic event and thank you to all involved.”
Tony Juniper CBE, Chair of Natural England, said:
“The Biodiversity Net Gain Conference created an excellent opportunity for people from a wide range of organisations to come together to discuss this important new policy. It provided a great platform for building the partnerships we will need in maximising the opportunities arising from biodiversity net gain, to support Nature’s recovery and in creating the healthy, beautiful, and sustainable places where people will want to live. A big thank you goes out to everyone involved in the planning, speaking and contributing to making the day a huge success.”
You can watch all of the keynote speeches and panel sessions that took place at the The Biodiversity Net Gain Conference here.