CIOB comment on Biodiversity Net Gain legislation
CIOB has welcomed new legislation to enhance biodiversity but warns skills shortages could limit its impact
On February 12, 2024, new legislation will come into force which means major development (unless otherwise exempt) will have to deliver net gains for biodiversity leading to positive outcomes for nature, better places for local communities and more consistent and transparent requirements for developers. The legislation will apply to smaller developments from April 2024.
Amanda Williams, head of environmental sustainability at CIOB, said: “This important legislation has been a long time coming so after a number of delays I’m glad it has finally come into force. I accept those delays and lack of a clear timeline has left many in the built environment sector feeling underprepared to successfully deliver biodiversity net gain, but I fear more delays could have resulted in the legislation being scrapped altogether, which would be a big step backwards for reducing construction’s impact on the environment.
“It will take time for our industry to adapt to the complex new legislation and understanding will need to be shown by regulators, particularly while there continues to be a shortage of experts such as ecologists to factor biodiversity net gain into project plans, deliver it and monitor success. CIOB has long called for a green skills strategy to address this and other skills shortages in areas such as retrofitting and without recruiting, training and retaining these specialists, biodiversity net gain, along with net zero will not be achieved.
“In my view the role communities can play in delivering biodiversity net gain is being overlooked and I’d urge project teams to involve them and draw on their knowledge and experience of local habitats and wildlife which can prove invaluable. According to the 2023 State of Nature Report, the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries on earth and there’s a responsibility on us all to work together to turn that around.
“Looking into the future, the current biodiversity net gain legislation does not address construction’s full impact on nature as it excludes the production and processing of construction materials, such as timber, sand, and minerals including gravel, iron ore and rocks, and how they affect biodiversity. The embodied biodiversity impacts of a project, i.e. the impacts on biodiversity resulting from the processes that take place throughout a material’s lifecycle, from extraction to end of life disposal, are not covered by the current rules and this is something that in time will need to be addressed.”
"According to the 2023 State of Nature Report, the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries on earth and there’s a responsibility on us all to work together to turn that around."
Amanda Williams, Head of environmental sustainability, CIOB