William Eichler 17 May 2024

Auditors raise doubts over biodiversity enforcement

Auditors raise doubts over biodiversity enforcement  image
Image: Lois GoBe / Shutterstock.com.

Auditors have questioned whether local authorities will be able to effectively ensure compliance and enforcement of biodiversity net gain (BNG).

A new report into statutory BNG by the National Audit Office (NAO) has flagged ‘significant risks’ to the policy’s effectiveness.

BNG was brought into effect in February this year. It requires all new building projects to achieve a 10% net gain in biodiversity or habitat.

Developers can either deliver new habitat on-site, off-site, or by purchasing credits through a new private market.

Local authorities manage many aspects of BNG through the planning process, including ensuring compliance and enforcement.

However, the NAO’s report warns there is ‘doubt about whether local authorities will be able to discharge these duties effectively.’

It also said it was ‘not clear’ whether Defra will have ‘sufficiently granular monitoring data to assess policy performance.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, environment spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA) said: ‘It is important that councils are properly funded and that the government quickly put in place measures to ensure the land is available for BNG off-site, for instance by allowing BNG on council-owned land in the short-term.

‘We want to work with government to ensure that councils have the right tools and resources to implement biodiversity net gain as effectively as possible.’

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: 'We have carefully considered the recommendations of the report and they will inform our approach as we continue to work with developers, land managers and local authorities to ensure the smooth implementation of Biodiversity net gain which strikes the right balance and delivers positive outcomes for nature.'

Check out: Getting ready for Biodiversity Net Gain.

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