Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is, at its heart, a basic concept whereby development and/or land management aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state that it was beforehand.
This concept will be given a statutory footing when parts of the Environment Act 2021 come into force which will, in turn, amend the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
Currently, the expectation is that this will be the latter part of this year — and that, from November 2023, there will be a mandatory requirement for all developments receiving planning permission under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (save those expressly exempt) to deliver at least 10% BNG.
The legal duty on developers to deliver BNG will be capable of being satisfied in three ways:
The number of biodiversity units required will be calculated by developers using a statutory metric which the government intends to publish next year. This will consider the site and the loss of habitat on the development site, and the metric will use this information to calculate the pre-development biodiversity value. The metric will then calculate how many units need to be provided onsite or offsite, or the number of credits that will need to be purchased, to satisfy the 10% biodiversity objective.
The expectation is that a similar legal duty to provide BNG will be extended to Planning Act 2008 developments (Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects) from 2025.
Whilst a lot of detail remains to be confirmed through secondary legislation and guidance, BNG objectives should have a positive impact on England’s nature and biodiversity levels. Furthermore, the information that has been made available also identifies a number of opportunities that will shortly be open to landowners, as well as considerations that landowners should be factoring into their estate planning from now and in advance of the mandatory regime commencing.
In advance of BNG becoming mandatory, institutions should be aware of a number of practical implications:
with both types of entities themselves having statutory reporting requirements. The government hopes that this will ensure maintenance of habitat enhancement is enforced to deliver the intended policy and benefit for nature, and also reinforces the significance of long-term BNG commitments.
Details, further guidance and secondary legislation underpinning how mechanisms will work in practice will hopefully be available from the government and its advisers over the next few months, and we would be happy to discuss any queries you may have.
There’s been little evidence of interventions or financial management reviews this year and it appears the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has re-focussed on financial delivery. It’s also telling that there were no discernible changes to the reporting of financial irregularities in the Academies Trust Handbook 2022.
The Children’s Commissioner, Rachel De Souza, has recently published a report “Beyond the labels: a SEND system which works for every child, every time”, which she intends to sit alongside the DfE’s SEND Review (2019) and SEND Green Paper (2022) and which she hopes will put children’s voices at the heart of the government’s review of SEND system.
There’s greater opportunity than ever for parents, carers and guardians to voice any concerns they have relating to their child’s education and for their concerns to be heard and to be taken seriously. While most staff in schools and academies are conscious of their legal duties relating to complaints management, many are struggling to cope with such a significant increase in the volume of complaints they must manage.
We’re pleased to collaborate with Lloyds Bank, who recently asked us and audit and risk specialists Crowe UK to offer guidance that academy trusts would find helpful when considering setting up a trading subsidiary.
On 2 November 2022, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in the much awaiting case of Hillside Parks Ltd v Snowdonia National Park Authority  UKSC 30. The Court’s judgment suggests that the long established practice of using drop-in applications is in fact much more restricted than previously thought. This judgment therefore has significant implications for both the developers and local planning authorities.