The UK Government is allocating £9.6m funding to local councils to assess whether developers are positively impacting nature on their sites.
Funding will go towards hiring staff to assess whether developers are delivering new biodiversity requirements.
Back in July, edie reported that from November, the developers of all large domestic, industrial, commercial and mixed-use sites will need to prove they have improved biodiversity at their site by at least 10%.
In fact, this requirement will expand to cover smaller sites in the first half of 2024.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is warning developers against ‘offsetting’ by creating biodiversity away from sites of any size.
Therefore, it limiting the number of “last-resort” credits it will issue for offsetting.
Responding to concerns that there may not be experts available in certain regions to baseline and measure biodiversity, Defra pledged £9.6m of funding for councils.
The funding will support local authorities to hire ecologists, evaluation specialists and other experts.
Councils will need to apply for a share of the funding. If successful, they will be designated as ‘responsible bodies’ for the upholding of legal conservation and restoration requirements on development sites in their regions.
The successful councils will enter into a new kind of voluntary ‘conservation covenant’ with the Government. Under these covenants, they take up responsibility for the delivery of biodiversity net gain, and also for conserving places of interest.
Berkeley Group’s chief executive Rob Perrins said the announcement from Defra “will provide greater certainty ahead of the go-live date in November”.