Agenda item

Biodiversity Net Gain

To receive an update on how Biodiversity Net Gain will be processed by Development Management in Enfield.


Gideon Whittingham introduced and highlighted the key aspects of the report, including but not limited to: the change in legislation, its impact on planning applications, the work being done by officers in preparation of its implementation, and its context amongst existing policies and legislation.


In response to Members queries regarding mechanisms for increasing biodiversity and high value sites, officers advised that planting trees, green roofs and walls, and features which encouraged certain insects and wildlife, were all techniques for improving biodiversity at a site. Specialists would identify what was appropriate for specific locations, and high value sites had not been identified in Enfield, but Cheryll Wilson would be looking at this.


In response to Members’ questions and comments relating to the emerging Local Plan and addressing natural recovery, officers responded that nature recovery strategies were looked after by a team, and dealt with specific sites that could receive money to provide biodiversity net gains. Such strategies were described as related but adjacent to biodiversity net gain. The emerging Local Plan sought 20% biodiversity net gain. It was evidence based that Enfield should seek 20% from all developments, but this would not be a material consideration until the plan was approved. Other boroughs like Sutton, had targeted and achieved 20% net gain for some time, and officers felt that having this target would empower Enfield to actively seek more innovative solutions.


In response to Members’ enquiries regarding Vicarage Farm, officers replied that it was a misconception that green fields equated to high biodiversity value, that the base line of such areas was relatively low, thus it would be very much achievable for regeneration schemes to introduce quality biodiversity improvements. Cllr Erbil highlighted the importance of understanding what was meant by biodiversity net gain and looking at sites on a case-by-case basis.  


In response to Members’ questions relating to the options/ mechanisms available, officers advised that providing the biodiversity net gain on-site was the priority, and what officers would expect and push for. If it was demonstrated that an on-site provision could not be achieved, then offsite net gains would be accepted. If offsite biodiversity gains could not be achieved, there was a credit system for buying biodiversity net gain in the region, but this would be a last resort. Applicants would need to demonstrate a robust justification which officers would scrutinise before offsite and credit contributions were accepted. Cheryll Wilson was dealing with offsite developments, and there was an opportunity for landowners to service this. Cllr Erbil highlighted that the credit system would only allow for relatively local contributions.


In response to Members queries relating to the DEFRA assessment, officers responded that DEFRA set a metric, which was treated as a baseline. Applications/ sites were assessed against it, to calculate the 10% improvement, and how these units could be provided. There was a software service available for conducting this assessment, but the council had the in-house specialisms to do this themselves too.


The Panel AGREED to note the report outlining how Biodiversity Net Gain will be processed by Development Management in Enfield.

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