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Ecologists at garden centre specialists Malcolm Scott Consultants have been working with clients to help them take steps toward helping achieve the aims of the Government’s new Environment Bill.
The Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech on 14 October 2019 and is scheduled to be passed by the new Government in early 2020.
It will bring into force a mandatory approach to Biodiversity Net Gain, and the business’s Environment team has been advising on measures to comply.
Rob Harrison, Principal Ecologist at the garden centre consultant, said: “Ever since the Bill was introduced, we’ve been asked one question more than any other: 'What is Biodiversity Net Gain?'
“The shortest explanation is that with biodiversity – animals, plants and micro-organisms – being in decline, steps have to be taken to not only counter the damage being done to it, but to actively enhance and encourage it to thrive.
“The past century has seen a significant decline in biodiversity, which has dangerous implications for future wildlife. The Environment Bill will enforce regulations on Local Planning Authorities which will see them step up their response to biodiversity losses by adopting clear environmental and planning policy requirements that encourage developers to take account of, and address biodiversity impacts,” he explained.
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The business is now working with its clients to prepare strategies which will help fulfil their obligations, generate Biodiversity Net Gain and aid the planning process.
“Moving forward, planning applications from developers will need to demonstrate that biodiversity has been taken into account, researched and that steps have been made to ensure Biodiversity Net Gain is included as a matter of course, so we’re ensuring that our clients are well prepared and have already begun to take positive action before the Bill comes into force. By their very nature, garden centres encourage and enhance plantlife and wildlife, but there's always room for improvement," he said.
The business is advising on steps including rethinking the design of developments and incorporating innovative approaches to maximise wildlife-friendly features, green (planted) architecture, incorporating species-rich planting areas into development sites to encourage wildlife and designing clever drainage that is both functional but ecologically beneficial.