The proposals could require developers to deliver a ‘biodiversity net gain’ when building new housing or commercial developments, whereby habitats for wildlife must be enhanced and left in a measurably better state than they were in pre-development.
The proposed new rules require developers to assess the type of habitat and its condition before submitting plans.
Spaces such as car parks and industrial sites would usually come lower on this scale, while more natural grasslands and woodlands would have a much higher ranking for their environmental importance.
Developers would then be required to demonstrate how they are improving biodiversity, for example, by creating green corridors, planting more trees or forming local nature spaces.
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Green improvements on sites would be encouraged, but if this isn’t possible, the consultation proposes to charge developers a levy to pay for habitat creation or improvement elsewhere.
The government believes that these proposals would help to achieve better outcomes for nature and people with the millions of pounds invested in environmental impact mitigation by developers every year.
Michael Gove, environment secretary, said: “Our commitment to protecting and enhancing our natural world can go hand in hand with our ambition to build more high-quality homes.
“Mandating biodiversity net gain puts the environment at the heart of planning and development.
“This will not only create better places for people to live and work, but ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations.”
The government’s consultation on the proposals opened on 2nd December and will continue until 10th February.