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The Environment Bank

Brokering a better deal for biodiversity

At Environment Bank, we generate investment in wildlife conservation schemes, including via ‘habitat banking’ and ‘biodiversity offsetting’. We work with landowners, developers, planning authorities and conservationists to better account for environmental impacts, prevent biodiversity loss and encourage development to become more environmentally sustainable.

About the Environment Bank

Biodiversity offsetting

Nearly all of our wildlife outside of protected areas is declining – all the evidence on this is very clear (* State of Nature Report 2013). In part, this is due to the failings of the current planning systems to adequately account for the impacts of development on nature conservation. We need a better accounting method that makes impact assessment quantitative. This is now achievable – by introducing the ‘biodiversity offsetting metric’ into all planning decisions.

The ‘offsetting metric’ does not always lead to ‘biodiversity offsetting’. In fact the use of the metric often leads to further avoidance of habitat loss, and more and better mitigation of habitat loss. Compensation, or biodiversity offsetting, only comes as a last resort – but where it is needed, then it should be delivered to the highest standards.

The biodiversity metric

The biodiversity metric was developed and produced by Natural England and Defra. It is a national, rigorous and consistent tool for calculating the environmental ‘impact’ of any development scheme and the environmental ‘gain’ of any habitat creation scheme. We use the biodiversity metric to determine the impact of development on wildlife habitats and, having first tried to avoid and mitigate any effects, we can, if necessary, secure funding to enable the re-creation and restoration of those habitats in alternative locations within the surrounding area. These alternative sites are managed for conservation and help improve wildlife connectivity in the wider countryside. It is a process that sits alongside existing planning policy and environmental protection laws – like a safety net to prevent biodiversity loss. You can find out more about the advantages of biodiversity offsetting in our information sheets The Advantages of a Mandatory System and Busting the Offsetting Myths.

How it works

The biodiversity metric is an unbiased and quantitative system used to assess impact to biodiversity from development and calculate the amount of compensation required. Biodiversity offsetting is only used when the development is to be granted approval and the mitigation hierarchy has been followed. Government-approved metrics are used to evaluate both biodiversity impact sites and offsetting receptor sites, so that no net loss – and preferably gain – of biodiversity is achieved.

Pilots

The biodiversity metric is being applied and biodiversity offsets are already being arranged across the UK right now. Here you can view a map of registered potential receptor sites for offsetting and read about some of the projects we are working with. If you are looking to introduce use of the metric or start an offsetting scheme, we can help you to achieve it.

Register land

Do you own land that could be registered to receive biodiversity offset funding? We are always looking for new sites so, if you have some land that you'd like to put into long-term nature conservation management in return for financial payment, we can help you do that.

Apply now

Biodiversity offsetting news

Toolkit for Local Planning Authorities

We have just released our new toolkit 'Accounting for biodiversity in planning' for local authorities - get yourself on the list and we'll send you a copy right away.

More news

QC's experience with offsetting in Essex

In a recent PlanningResource article, Stephen Tromans QC, talks about his own experience representing developers who recently secured planning permission for housing on an area of grassland in Thaxted, Essex.