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What new biodiversity law means for housing projects in England | Climate News

New homes for us often come at the expense of living space for wildlife. But, from the new year, a new law in England means developers will have to make sure their projects deliver 10% more nature. It’s called biodiversity net gain.

Conservation groups are broadly supportive but worried about how natural gain will be measured and how it will be policed.

At a part-built housing estate near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, Helen Nyul, group biodiversity manager, from the big housebuilder Barratts showed me what it means in practice.

Some of it within the newly built environment: “We’ve got the house marten nesting cups which are on the side of the front end of our building here. We’ve got swift nesting bricks.

“We’ve also installed hedgehog highways, which are simple little holes underneath fences in people’s back gardens, giving hedgehogs a much wider expanse of garden roaming.”

And some of it beside the estate: “A nature pond that used to be an old fishing lake. But we’ve enhanced it and now it’s got lots of birds coming to visit every day.

A swift nesting brick
Image:
A swift nesting brick

To make the calculation of ‘gain’ ecologists assess a site prior to development and give it a score depending on the variety and rarity of the species.

If the building site is on a standard arable field, the existing wildlife might be quite meagre so improving on it may be straightforward.

But if trees, hedgerows, wetlands or even scrubland are bulldozed then making up for the loss and adding 10% is much more challenging. So biodiversity offsetting is allowed.

A field of barley a few miles from Milton Keynes has been selected to enjoy natural regeneration as a payback for damage elsewhere.

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A warning about ground nesting birds
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Source: news.sky.com
This notice was published: 2023-11-10 17:15:00

By Sky News

Sky News is a British 24-hour information television channel, the first in Europe of its kind, launched on February 5, 1989 by the British Sky Broadcasting Company.

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