Applies to England
ThisBiodiversity draftnet guidancegain explains what will apply when becomesis mandatory.mandatory Wefrom will12 continueFebruary to update this guidance.2024.
Guidance on statutory biodiversity credits may be relevant to you if you are a:
- local planning authority (LPA)
Buying statutory credits means that as well as, or instead of, creating and enhancing biodiversity on or off a development site, developers can make a financial contribution which counts towards their mandatory 10% BNG
. . This contribution will be used to fund biodiversity enhancements across England.
Prices are based on the cost to create, maintain and monitor different habitat types. There is also a mark-up to prevent statutory credit prices undercutting the off-site market.
Developers buy statutory credits using the credit sales service. There is no minimum or maximum purchase for statutory
credits. credits. You can buy fractions of a credit, if it is rounded to 2 decimal places. For example, 0.5 credits, or 3.76 credits.
Before developers buy statutory credits, they can estimate how much they will cost.
When developers use the statutory biodiversity metric tool, it will tell them if they need to make bespoke BNG compensation, if they are building on some types of habitat. Developers cannot
buyuse statutory biodiversity credits if they are required to make bespoke compensation. LPAs will advise developers on bespoke compensation where appropriate.
Ways to achieve BNG: on-site units, off-site units and statutory biodiversity credits
Through site selection and layout, developers should avoid or reduce any impact on biodiversity. They must deliver 10% BNG, as measured by the statutory biodiversity metric.
There are 3 ways a developer can achieve
Enhance and restore biodiversity on-site (within the red line boundary of a development site).
If developers can only achieve part of their BNG on-site, they can deliver through a mixture of on-site and off-site. Developers can either make off-site biodiversity gains on their own land outside the development site, or buy off-site biodiversity units on the market.
If developers cannot achieve on-site or off-site biodiversity net gain, they must buy statutory biodiversity credits. This must be a last resort.
Developers can combine all 3 options, but must follow the steps in order. This order of steps is called the biodiversity gain hierarchy.
Statutory biodiversity credits are different from off-site biodiversity units sold in the off-site private market. Statutory credits are a last resort way of acquiring biodiversity units needed to achieve BNG. If developers buy statutory credits, this is because it is not possible to restore habitats on-site or by buying off-site units. Developers can buy statutory credits to add to on-site and off-site biodiversity units, to meet their total BNG. Statutory credits can also fulfil a developer’s entire BNG if both on and off-site options are not possible. Developers wanting to buy statutory credits must prove why they cannot meet BNG using on-site and off-site options.
When to buy statutory biodiversity
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ofto anybuy statutory biodiversity credits needed .credits
AsCheck soon as developercost identifiesof a need for credits,biodiversity they should discuss any need for statutory withinto theirwork overallout strategythe withtotal their LPA .cost.
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Theyour developer needs to provide this theirthe biodiversity gain plan. They must also submit to the LPA a biodiversity metric calculation that shows how they will meet their mandatory BNG .plan.
How to find out the type and number of statutory biodiversity credits needed
mustneed to use the statutory biodiversity calculation provecalculate the accurate calculation of the
The number of statutory credits for a specific development depends on the number of biodiversity units a development will need to meet its 10% BNG.
Once havecomplete completed statutory calculationcalculation, (on-sitethe beforemetric andtool afterwill development,automatically andcalculate off-sitethe beforeremaining andunits afteryou development),need theto statutoryfulfil biodiversitythe metricBNG requirement.
toolmust willinclude automaticallythe calculatebiodiversity value before and after the remainingdevelopment unitsis neededcomplete. toThis fulfilis yourfor BNGboth requirement. on-site and off-site.
The metric tool’s ‘unit shortfall summary’ tab shows you how many statutory credits of each tier you need to purchase and how this ‘unit shortfall’ was calculated. There is also detailed guidance in the
statutory biodiversity guide. guide.
Notes on statutory credit terms in the
statutory biodiversity metric tool
Statutory credits are priced in tiers. Different habitats are grouped in tiers to reflect the cost and value of different habitats.
Tiers ‘A1’ to ‘A5’ refer to area habitats, tier ‘H’ refers to hedgerow, and ‘W’ to watercourse habitats. The ‘habitat
deficitunit shortfall summary’ tab in the metric tool automatically sorts your habitat deficit into the right pricing tiers.
The spatial risk multiplier
If you buy statutory biodiversity credits, a ‘spatial risk multiplier’ (SRM) will
apply,apply. whichThis means that a credit is worth 0.5 biodiversity units, so you mustwill buy 2 statutory credits for every 1 biodiversity unitunit. you need to compensate for. statutory biodiversity automaticallyapply calculatethe thisSRM multiplication you,you inon the ‘unit shortfall’shortfall summary’ tab. TheOne credit is worth 0.5 units. Applying the SRM appliesmeans tothat statutory credits are treated the same as off-site biodiversity units from a different local authority to ensurea theydevelopment.
This is so that credits do not compete with the development of the off-site market
and(including remainsales aacross lastdifferent resort. local authorities).
There is more information about the SRM in
the statutorythe metric biodiversity metric guide. guide.
What information developers need from the metric tool to estimate the total cost of statutory credits or buy statutory credits
DevelopersBased willon need fromyou theenter habitat deficit summary tooltool, tothe work‘unit outshortfall thesummary numbertab’ ofwill statutoryshow how many credits theyyou need andto frompurchase whichat tier. each tier. ToDevelopers can estimate the total the theyto willwork need,out orthe tototal buycost credits,of developersstatutory willbiodiversity credits they need. They need to enter the number of area (A1 to A5), hedgerow (H) and watercourse (W) credits from the metric tool’s ‘unit shortfall’ column (column D), to 2 decimal places, for example 3.87. 3.87.
How to prove statutory credits are needed
BeforeThe the LPA approves a developer’s use of statutory credits, the showinclude the LPA both of the piecesin oftheir evidence. gain plan:
TheEvidence developerthat hasthey considered additional on-site andthe canreasons provide reasoning showing possible.possible.
TheEvidence developerthat hasthe developer approached 3 local or national suppliers, habitat banks or trading websites and can show evidence noinsufficient off-site options are available in England. EvidenceFor would include, for correspondence,correspondence emails,emails or a PDF download showing a marketplace search.search.
Evidence for small numbers of statutory credits
If a developer needs less than 0.25 biodiversity units (area or linear), they can buy statutory credits without following step 2 above (showing evidence that
noinsufficient off-site options are available). They still need to follow step 1 (showing evidence that on-site BNG is not possible). available).
Statutory biodiversity credit prices
There is a price list.
Prices will be reviewed every 6
monthsmonths. after BNG becomes mandatory.
Statutory credit prices are not guideline prices for off-site biodiversity units.
planning applications development
Statutory biodiversity credits
canare be purchased as the requirement development.
proposed use of credits must be included in the plan,plan which beinclude submittedinformation beforeabout anythe developmentproposed starts. use Developers should include confirmation anycredits creditfor purchases in phasedoverall biodiversitydevelopment. Any gain planplans for eachfuture phase. phases Guidancemust oninclude phaseddetails biodiversityof gainprevious planscredit will be available soon. purchases.
Statutory biodiversity credits are
linkedpurchased tofor thea specific planning referencepermission. numberYou andcannot biodiversitytransfer gainthem plan they are purchased for. They are non-transferable othera planningdifferent permissions or gain plans. permission.
ayou developermake sells land with planningsection permission73 andapplication approvedto biodiversityvary gaina planplanning andpermission, theyyou havecan purchasedcount statutoryprevious creditscredit forpurchases it,from the neworiginal ownerpermission maytowards be able to benefit from statutorynew credits,permission.
ifout theymore wishabout tosection proceed73 withpermissions in the planning permission. practice guidance.
Who sells statutory credits and how the funds will be used
Natural England is selling statutory credits on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Funds from the sale of statutory credits will be invested in habitat creation or enhancement, as set out in the Environment Act. You will be able to see how credit investment is spent in annual reports from the Secretary of State for DEFRA, which we will publish on GOV.UK when available.
Buying statutory biodiversity credits: further guidance for developers
BeforeYou you buy statutory credits, you use another service if you want to howthe muchcost of statutory biodiversity credits willbefore cost.you Thisbuy will also be available when BNG becomes mandatory. them.
Before using these services,
you will need to statutory . . You may want to discuss this with the LPA.
Statutory biodiversity credits: further guidance for LPAs
There is additional guidance for
Updated box at top of page to state that biodiversity net gain (BNG) is mandatory from 12 February 2024 and removed the ‘draft guidance’ label. Added information about when to buy statutory biodiversity credits and included links to buy credits. Other changes to the spatial risk multiplier, transfers and how to prove credits are needed.