Biodiversity net gain

In February 2024 the Government introduced new biodiversity procedures that both applicants/agents and planning authorities must follow. 

What is biodiversity net gain?

Biodiversity net gain (BNG) is mandatory under Section 7A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as inserted by Schedule 14 of the Environment Act 2021). 

This has been introduced to ensure that habitats for wildlife are left in a measurably better state than they were before development.

All new developments must deliver a biodiversity net gain of 10%.

On the 2 April 2024 the legislation changed to include minor as well as major developments, and incorporated the submitting of documents as part of the national validation requirements (where no exemption applies). 

It also amended the planning application forms to include questions which need to be completed. 

Exemptions that existed before 2 April for minor development no longer apply. Your application will not be validated without the submission of the required information.

Learn about exempt developments on the government website.

Further information about BNG on GOV.UK

For major applications

All major applications must be supported by the Statutory Biodiversity Metric. This is used to calculate the pre-development and post development value of the development’s onsite habitat, as well as the value of offsite biodiversity gains and biodiversity credits. 

The metric must be completed by a person who is suitably qualified and competent. 

For minor applications

Minor development proposals may be supported by the Small Sites Metric (SSM) which must be completed by a competent person. Please note the SSM cannot be used where priority habitats, protected site habitats and European protected species are identified within the development site or where off-site interventions are required.

How to use the the biodiversity net gain metric

The biodiversity net gain metric is an Excel spreadsheet – you must disable the macros before you submit this to us as macro enabled documents are blocked. 

See the statutory biodiversity metric tools and guides.

  1. Open the File as normal and enable all content (so the macros are active) – you get a bar at the top sometimes asking you to allow or Trust the document.
  2. Go to File (top left), then Options (bottom of the list), then Trust Center, then select Trust Center Settings. Under the macro settings option (middle of the list) select “Disable VBA macros without notification” at the top. Say yes to all the windows that pop up.
  3. Go to File again, select Save as and under the file type at the top change from xlsm to xlsx. Save – say yes to all the pop-ups again.

If you then check the file the headline results and habitat pages should be showing the results as they were in the macro-enabled version. If the results page has changed to all “0’s” you may have to repeat the above. This follows the MS Help Centre directions.

If you have any issues with submitting documents on the Planning Portal please contact the Planning Portal directly for assistance. The portal also supplies information about how to reduce file sizes If a document exceeds 10MB.

See guidance about using the biodiversity metric on the Government website.