Biodiversity Net Gain

In 2019 Defra consulted on proposals for net gain and an updated metric.

Devon LNP response

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that:

170. Planning policies and decisions should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by:
d) minimising impacts on and providing net gains for biodiversity, including by establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures;
174. To protect and enhance biodiversity and geodiversity, plans should:
b) promote the conservation, restoration and enhancement of priority habitats, ecological networks and the protection and recovery of priority species; and identify and pursue opportunities for securing measurable net gains for biodiversity

Devon Local Plans are beginning to include Net Gain Policies and require the metric to be used.  Contact the relevant Local Authority for further information.

What is the Biodiversity Metric?

The metric was developed by NE / Defra and provides a measurable and strategic approach for compensating for any harm resulting from a development, that cannot be avoided or adequately mitigated (see the national policy context below).  It is currently being updated by NE and questions on the metric were included in the 2019 Net Gain Consultation.

Benefits for developers include:

  • It simplifies the discussion about how much compensation is needed.  The impact of the development is measured in ‘biodiversity units’ (using a standard metric which has been developed by Natural England).  The compensatory habitat must deliver an equivalent number of biodiversity units (or more if net gain is required).
  • It is transparent.  Relevant information is open and available to all from the start of the process.
  • It allows the developer to pay a provider’ to deliver compensation / net gain for them, and to pass on the responsibility for managing that compensation.

Benefits for wildlife include:

  • It requires the long term management of the compensatory habitat
  • It requires the compensatory / net gain habitat to be located in areas where it will achieve maximum wildlife gain e.g. meeting the principles of bigger. better and joined up wildlife sites or developing a coherent and resilient ecological network.

The 2012-14 Offsetting Pilot

The 2011 Natural Environment White Paper announced Defra’s intention to trial an approach to biodiversity offsetting.   A two-year national biodiversity offsetting pilot began in April 2012.  Devon was one of six areas taking part in this pilot and Strategies were produced for South Devon and the North Devon Biosphere Reserve. Read more about the national pilot and Defra’s offsetting guidance.

South Devon

South Devon Biodiversity Offsetting Guidance October 2014 (with a higher resolution South Devon Biodiversity Offsetting Guidance October 2014 Map Figure 2).


Teignbridge District Council – Estelle Skinner, Green Infrastructure Officer

Devon County Council – Sarah Jennings, County Ecologist
Natural England – Julien Sclater, Lead Adviser, Land Use Team

The North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

Read more about the strategy for the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.


North Devon Biosphere Reserve – Andy Bell, Biosphere Co-ordinator (lead officer)
Natural England – Clare Guthrie, Lead Adviser, Land Use Team

Devon co-ordinator:  Sarah Jennings, County Ecologist, DCC,