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Land needed by developers for biodiversity net gain

18th December 2023

New biodiversity net gain (BNG) planning rules will provide opportunities for landowners to both improve the natural environment on their land and gain a long term source of income.

The principle behind BNG is that development must result in measurable improvements to biodiversity, with the new rules specifying a minimum improvement of 10%. If it’s not possible to achieve this on the development site itself, developers must buy ‘biodiversity units (BU)’ elsewhere.

For the purposes of the new rules, biodiversity is focused on habitat. The richer a piece of land is in natural habitats, the more BU it will generate and the greater the income potential. The sums involved can be substantial, and you will get more units per hectare if you create, enhance or restore a particular habitat that is agreed as strategic for your location.

Land Trust estimates of BNG value suggest that at the higher end of delivery, BU could provide £80,000 – £200,000 per hectare.

Contracts must be agreed for a minimum of 30 years.

The new rules come into operation in January 2024, and it’s likely that the demand for biodiversity units will rise rapidly. This means it’s well worthwhile landowners and land managers taking the time now to understand the opportunity, what local priorities for nature recovery might be, and what types of habitats developers will be looking for. Early conversations with local authorities and land agents could pay dividends.

It’s fantastic to see strong policies coming into operation that promise to benefit both nature and the rural economy.

General biodiversity net gain information

Natural England – what landowners can do now to gear up for the biodiversity net gain market

The local biodiversity net gain context

Biodiversity | Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Draft Biodiversity Net Gain Supplementary Planning Document (

Biodiversity Net Gain – Greater Manchester Combined Authority (

Meadow with woodland behind
Photo by Joe Green on Unsplash