Major offering of biodiversity net gain units as new rules come into force

The introduction of mandatory BNG is set to open up opportunities for landowners interested in the natural capital market
The introduction of mandatory BNG is set to open up opportunities for landowners interested in the natural capital market

Carter Jonas has announced it is offering for sale over 200 biodiversity net gain (BNG) units on behalf of Ground Control’s Evergreen Fund in Cambridgeshire.

As the government’s BNG requirement for developers becomes mandatory, the property consultancy has today (12 February) announced the sale.

Legislation comes into force from today ruling that planning applications for all major developments must include provision for BNG of at least 10%.

The move aims to leave habitats in a better state than they were pre-development.

Previously, developers needed to ensure any damage done to biodiversity was offset, but new regulations mean they must also provide an additional 10% gain.

If applicants cannot provide this extra 10% on site, they will need to purchase BNG units off site, which is where the opportunity exists for landowners.

In what is one of the first large-scale public sales of its kind, Carter Jonas is acting for Ground Control’s Evergreen Fund to market the Devana Centre for Environmental Recovery in West Wickham.

Mark Russell, partner at Carter Jonas, said: “The introduction of mandatory BNG has been a long time coming but will now open opportunities for landowners who are interested in the natural capital markets.

“Selling units is a big commitment as the land must stay in the scheme for a minimum of 30 years, so decisions should be made within the context of a long-term strategy for the farm or estate.

“In the case of the Devana Centre, there is a clear plan and a strong desire from the Evergreen Fund to deliver nature recovery, so the natural capital route is a really good option.”

Ground Control is a UK-based grounds maintenance company and the Devana Centre forms the latest example of its Evergreen Fund’s commitment to building a network for nature recovery through direct action.

It is the Evergreen Fund’s second site, adding to its 296-acre Wildfell Centre for Environmental Recovery in Braintree, Essex.

Chris Bawtree, nature recovery director for the fund, said: “Devana represents a key part of Natural Cambridgeshire’s ambition to double land managed for nature across the region from 8% – one of the lowest in the country – to 16% which is the national average.

“The new location will provide a home for 20-25 native tree species, 15-20 native shrubs, a wide variety of native wildflowers and grasses, creating valuable habitats for a range of other fauna such as pollinators, birds, bats, mammals and reptiles.

“The land will also provide corridors for biodiversity to spread by linking directly into the Cambridgeshire Green Infrastructure network via woodland and hedgerows on site and the neighbouring semi-natural ancient woodland Rand’s Wood.”

The price range for BNG units from the Devana Centre starts from £22,500.