Government moots 'narrow exemptions' to net gain policy

The government has said it will "do more work to address viability concerns" raised in a consultation on its environmental net gain proposal and is considering several "narrow exemptions" to the policy, including for residential self-build and for certain types of brownfield land development.

Defra: Net gain consultation response published
Defra: Net gain consultation response published

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) yesterday published a summary of responses to its consultation, launched in December last year, on its net gain proposal.

The document says the majority of respondents to the consultation "thought exempting broad categories of development to be unnecessary".

It adds that the government "will not, therefore, introduce broad exemptions from delivering biodiversity net gain, beyond those ... proposed for permitted development and householder applications such as extensions, and will instead introduce narrow exemptions for the most constrained types of development".

The document adds that the government intends to keep small sites in the scope of the mandatory net gain approach, "but will actively consider whether minor residential developments should be subject to longer transition arrangements or a lower net gain requirement than other types of development".

It adds that the government "will also consider exemptions for development of specific ownership types which may be disproportionately impacted through these changes, such as residential self-build".

The document also confirms a series of exemptions for brownfield land. It says that "concerns raised about the cost sensitivity of the redevelopment of post-industrial developed land will be addressed by a targeted exemption for brownfield sites that meet a number of criteria".

These include that such sites do not contain priority habitats, and "face genuine difficulties in delivering viable development".

The document says the government "will continue to listen to the development and planning sectors as mandatory biodiversity net gain is implemented so that any unexpected impacts of net gain policy can be identified and addressed promptly".

It goes on to say that the government "will do more work to address viability concerns raised at consultation to ensure that net gain does not prevent, delay or reduce housebuilding".

It adds that the exemptions to the net gain policy will be set out in secondary legislation. The overall net gain policy is set out in the new Environment Bill, published yesterday.

The bill confirms that applicants will be required to achieve a 10 per cent net gain for biodiversity from development proposals.

The consultation response document says the 10 per cent figure "strikes the right balance between ambition, certainty in achieving environmental outcomes, and deliverability and costs for developers."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Join the conversation with PlanningResource on social media

Follow Us:
Planning Jobs