The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has published the revised National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) for the natural environment. It includes new guidance on the principle of biodiversity net gain, whereby developers must ensure that new developments include ample provision of habitats for wildlife and deliver an increase in biodiversity as a result.
The new guidance now makes clear that Local Wildlife Sites are of substantive nature conservation value and make an important contribution to ecological networks and nature's recovery. Local authorities are responsible for ensuring that all local sites are identified and mapped; while local plan policies are expected not only to protect them from harm and loss but also to enhance them and their connections to wider ecological networks.
For the first time the government has set out expectations on how developers should protect particular species. The new rules recommend ways developers can identify opportunities to create new habitat for wildlife, including by creating hedgehog highways and installing hollow swift nesting bricks into the walls of new-build homes. House builders are expected to consider the long-term impact of their developments on local ecosystems and there is now greater emphasis on using innovative ways to allow nature to thrive, such as creating drainage areas that provide attractive wetland habitats for birds, amphibians and insects to live alongside people.
The Communities Secretary said, “Building the new homes this country needs must not come at the detriment of our natural heritage.
“It’s right that as we deliver houses for people, we must also provide homes for wildlife too – whether that’s for hedgehogs, frogs, newts or birds.
“The public have told us that protecting wildlife is important to them – so my message to house builders is to harness this support and get building in a way that protects the environment for the next generation.”
He has also called for developers to plant more trees and green meadows – giving vital insects such as bees and butterflies a safe haven to thrive.