This is the RTPI's response to the 2019 Defra consultation, which asks whether the government should introduce mandatory requirements to the planning system in England so that development must delivery biodiversity net gain.
The RTPI's response agreed that development should support habitat conservation and enhancement, and deliver net gains for diversity. We said that legislation, guidance and metrics can help to achieve this, but must be complemented with proper resourcing for planners, including access to ecological expertise. This will enable the profession to fulfil its leadership function, bringing together public and private investment to create places which benefit the environment and society.
Before legislation is amended to introduce mandatory biodiversity net gain, we called for greater consideration of its impact in different parts of the country, including dense urban areas with limited biodiversity value, and places with marginal viability.
Decisions about biodiversity net gain at the development level should contribute to the wider objectives of the local authority. Alongside their Local Plan, local authorities should work collaboratively to develop strategic spatial plans for the environment, setting out objectives for biodiversity, green and blue infrastructure, natural capital, accessibility, and other priorities at a landscape scale.
Government should support this with new planning guidance and resources, empowering local authorities to collect and administer tariff payments for habitat creation and enhancement which reflect their strategic objectives.