Environmental Audit Committee - Oral evidence: Biodiversity offsetting

In evidence to the Commons Environment Audit Committee Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told MPs that biodiversity offsetting projects should be "reasonably close" to the development involved if local people are going to accept the practice.

Mr Paterson added that if the offsetting project was too distant, "we will not get the support on the ground. People will feel that they have had their environmental asset taken away, because a new road has gone through, say, and they have lost a bit of wetland for good—they will never see it again. They have to feel that they are within reasonable distance of seeing an enhanced asset.

Mr Paterson continued by stating "I also feel very strongly, however, that the problem with the current planning system is that you get these little islands of activity, some of which are tokenistic. So you might get some new housing estate with just a token pond in the middle. It would be much better to have that money devoted to enhancing an existing ecosystem or adding to it." 

It was also confirmed that a local planning authority could refuse to allow an offset arrangement, because it felt that a developer had not done enough to avoid or mitigate harm in the first place.

Date: 23 October 2013 Date of publication

Author: CLG

DCP link: This item updates DCP section 4.25

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