2nd October 2023
“Habitat and biodiversity management is an evolving area of law which can have significant implications on the planning and profitability of a wide range of projects. With a number of new measures coming into force, including Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), it is increasingly important for developers to be aware of their responsibilities in this area.”
Understanding Habitat and Biodiversity Management: Successful management involves planning for wildlife and nature preservation on every site, ensuring regulatory approvals are obtained and complied with. It is also increasingly important with the advent of biodiversity net gain (BNG), where strategies can be developed to allow landowners to maximize the value of their sites.
Common Issues: Developers often face challenges related to tree preservation orders, protected species (e.g., bats, newts) and hedgerows, and special conservation areas. Breaches frequently occur on development sites, where, with multiple parties operating from the site at the same time, environmental responsibilities are not always clearly defined.
Early Consideration: Account for the impact of habitat and biodiversity management on project timing, considering seasonal restrictions and regulatory compliance. Obtaining a protected species license or participating in district licensing schemes may also be necessary and should be factored in.
Optimal Timing: Address concerns as early as possible to manage costs and to ensure experts, such as ecologists, are involved at the earliest opportunity. If you want to consider biodiversity offsetting, then this will need assessing and presenting at an early stage.
Benefits of Upfront Planning: Taking advice and addressing habitat and biodiversity issues at the start of a project, to ensure compliance, will minimize the risk of costly regulator intervention or even fines later.
Importance for Companies: Habitat and biodiversity management are crucial for a company’s reputation, particularly with increasing attention on environmental compliance. Non-compliance may result in severe penalties, including criminal convictions. It is important to keep in mind that fines are now unlimited.
While we regularly support clients where issues have arisen on site, we also advise on implementing robust management strategies to avoid problems arising throughout the course of a development. This is an important area as the potential penalties if things go wrong can be severe.
If you are undertaking a development project and want to ensure that you avoid any issues before they become incidents – contact our Environment team for advice and support. Stay tuned for the second part of this video next week.