Legislation to protect and enhance the UK’s environment has now been passed into law in The Environment Act 2021.
The Act aims to clean air, restore natural habitats, increase biodiversity, reduce waste, and make better use of resources. It will halt the decline in species by 2030 and requires new developments to improve or create habitats for nature.
People will be encouraged to recycle more and businesses will be encouraged to create more sustainable packaging.
All of this will be underpinned by new legally binding environmental targets enforced by a new independent Office for Environmental Protection (OEP).
Land owners will already be familiar with the provisions for biodiversity, natural capital, and conservation in the Agriculture Act. Further biodiversity gain measures within the Environment Act and with the structure of conservation covenants means landowners will be able to turn natural capital into income producing assets.
Specifically, The Environment Act will deliver:
Waste & Recycling
Biodiversity Net Gain
As the components of mandatory Biodiversity net gain will not become law until at least November 2023, it is just worth noting how this currently fits in. Defra are due to release another version of the Metric (the proxy biodiversity value developed by Natural England) version 3.1 in January 2022 likely to be followed by a further round of consultation before adoption. Net gain will not apply to Permitted Development prior approval. S73 applications will however be captured unless the Secretary of State amends the legislation. Those sites which have been obviously cleared before planning will be penalised and biodiversity net gain will be based on the sites previous condition, subject to evidence available. Those habitats created before a development begins will receive a greater weighting in the Metric.
Despite there being an inclusion of an allowance of a 70:30 split across development land for gardens, current advice is not to rely on this as it could be open to legal challenge. The consultation on Small Site Metric for schemes of less than nine dwellings and under one hectare has now finished, which is designed to reduce the burden on small sites.
Clearly there is a lot here that could impact on landowners and developers and it is important to understand how your land holding as a whole can benefit. To find out more please get in touch with our team.