Notwithstanding strong regulation of development in the marine environment and some notable successes in managing the impacts of marine activities, the UK still remains some way from achieving its vision for clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas.
The 2011 Natural Environment White Paper set out the Government’s aspiration for this to be the first generation to leave the natural environment of England in a better state than it inherited. However, for this to happen we need to reverse the trend of continuing loss of marine biodiversity.
While the Government has toyed with concepts such as biodiversity offsetting, the policy has not been actively pursued since that time in part owing to concerns from environmental NGO’s that the policy might create a ‘licence to trash’.
Biodiversity Net Gain is a new concept which seeks to ensure that development leaves biodiversity in a better state than before. It is an approach where developers work with local government, wildlife groups, land owners and other stakeholders in order to support their priorities for nature conservation.
The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management ‘s (CIEEM) has published draft principles for achieving Biodiversity Net Gain that seek to promote a structured approach to delivering biodiversity gain which embeds the mitigation hierarchy (avoid-reduce-mitigate) thus minimising impacts on the natural environment.
The principles are a welcome step in developing a set of practical principles that can be applied to development projects including projects in the marine environment.
(Policy and Planning)
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