The UK Government has today released a consultation on regulations needed to ensure all new developments achieve a 10% net gain in biodiversity, as set out in the Environment Act 2021. These regulations will determine how increases in biodiversity will be measured, how and where habitat can be created, and how biodiversity net gain will be enforced.
WWT strongly welcomes this requirement for all developments to contribute to the restoration of nature through biodiversity net gain standards because this has the potential to provide habitat for wildlife while integrating high-quality blue space into communities.
Biodiversity net gain standards also have the potential to channel large amounts of private finance from developers towards the restoration and creation of wetlands, especially in urban areas, helping achieve WWT’s ambition of 100,000 hectares of new and restored wetlands across the UK. For this to happen, however, the regulations must ensure that existing rare habitats are preserved, high-quality habitat is created and that this is preserved through effective enforcement.
To be effective and help achieve a Blue Recovery through the restoration and creation of wetlands, the regulations and the metric for measuring net gain should achieve the following:
Effective mechanisms for quality checking and enforcement will also be key if biodiversity is to be protected, which means giving planning authorities the tools and resources required to check biodiversity net gain plans and hold to account developers who fail to deliver the promised gain.
WWT will be responding to the consultation to make sure the regulations take into account what is needed to get the most possible for wetlands from biodiversity net gain. We will also be working with our partners across the nature sector to ensure that the government creates a biodiversity net gain system that works for wildlife and people.
Biodiversity net gain has enormous potential for wetlands but the principle alone is not enough. It must be backed up with effective implementation that takes into account the importance of wetland habitat for biodiversity.