Somerset Council needs your help to shape new Biodiversity Net Gain planning rules for Somerset.
New national rules are on the way which means developers will need to leave nature better than they found it – and Somerset Council is seeking your views on how we introduce them to the county.
New government Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) planning legislation, expected to come into force in January next year, means planning applications for new developments in England must leave nature better off than before, and create new habitats and green spaces to compensate for the ones they are eliminating as part of the build.
Developers will be encouraged to make nature improvements on the proposed development site first. If this is not possible, then in areas outside the site, in places that are strategically important to the local area. As a last resort, developers can buy statutory credits from the government to fund habitat creation elsewhere.
BNG legislation is being set nationally, but can be tailored to the local area. Somerset Council is leading the introduction of the new rules and wants to make sure we get it right for the county.
It is seeking views on its approach to BNG and from the general public as well as a wide range of interested groups and organisations.
The public consultation is available online here where you can review the materials and respond to our online survey. It is aimed at the public, planning applicants, developers, planning agents, ecologists, landowners, land managers, land agents, site promoters, and nature conservation bodies.
The closing date for comment is midnight on 4 December.
Paper copies of the documentation are available at the following locations, with responses being able to be emailed to email@example.com
or posted to BNG, Somerset Council, County Hall, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 4DY:
· Bridgwater House, Bridgwater, TA6 3AR (Monday – Friday 8.45am to 5.00pm)
· Council Offices, Cannard’s Grave Road, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BT (Monday – Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm
· Petters Way Council Offices, Yeovil, BA20 1AS (Monday – Tuesday and Thursday – Friday 9.00am to 4.00pm, first Wednesday of the month 11.00am to 4.00pm and every other Wednesday 9.00am to 4.00pm)
· Deane House, Belvedere Road, Taunton, TA1 1HE (Monday – Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm)
· West Somerset House, 20 Fore Street, Williton, TA4 4QA (Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm)
· County Hall, Taunton, TA1 4DY (Monday – Friday 8.00am to 6.00pm, Saturday 09:00am to 4.00pm)
· ‘Hub’ libraries: Taunton, Minehead, Frome, Bridgwater, Yeovil, Glastonbury
Councillor Ros Wyke Lead Member for Economic Development, Planning and Assets said “Local planners and developers are tackling two challenges that can sometimes be seen as competitive – building much needed new homes and protecting and restoring nature. Through BNG, they are in an ideal position to build not just sustainable houses, but new, sustainable communities, where people can thrive alongside nature.
We encourage anyone with an interest in planning and new development to take part in the consultation.”
Councillor Dixie Darch Lead Member for Environment and Climate added “We welcome the BNG legislation as a key lever to a greener more sustainable Somerset, a priority set out in our council plan. The BNG requirement also sets out a legal agreement to commit and monitor any habitat gains for the long term (over 30 years). New habitats take time to become established and this will ensure they are secured.”