Barr Ellison Solicitors acted for landowners on a development site in Thaxted, Essex where planning was initially refused for residential development on ecology grounds.
The client’s team devised and developed a ground-breaking biodiversity offsetting scheme whereby the loss of habitat was offset by the provision of a larger grassland site for wildlife a few miles from the development site. Appropriate safeguards for future management were set up.
The Planning Inspector concluded that the compensation site, with appropriate management, “would provide a suitable habitat for the common lizard and would provide a grassland of greater value and size tan the appeal site does or could”.
The Inspector added: “In these circumstances, I consider the proposal would not have any unacceptable effects on biodiversity when taken as a whole, and would enhance it.”
What exactly is Biodiversity Offsetting?
Biodiversity offsetting enables a developer to build on land with an ecological value provided it pays to acquire or restore another site that has the potential to have at least the same ecological and environmental quality as the site that will be lost. It is a form of “ecological reprovisioning”. This particular system of mitigating the environmental impact of ecology already has wide application in the US and Australia. At its best it provides certainty for developers and at the same time protects and enhances biodiversity.
Biodiversity Offsetting has the potential to provide a simple standard framework for evaluating the impact of development on biodiversity and can speed up assessment. Any required compensation which cannot be mitigated on site can be bought ‘off the shelf’.
For more information on the mechanics of biodiversity offsetting and how to create a scheme for offsetting biodiversity under a compensation site, please contact Elizabeth Deyong, Head of Commercial Property at Cambridge solicitors Barr Ellison.
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