The Government has formally announced that the introduction of a mandatory requirement for Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) to be delivered alongside new developments has been deferred until January 2024. Alongside this announcement, the Government has committed to publishing a package of guidance documents connected with the introduction by the end of November this year.

As had been flagged in our article published in February, there was significant concern that the Government hadn't been working quickly enough to ensure that all the required elements would be in place to allow the system to go live in November. These concerns appear to have been well founded.

Whilst the news may be welcomed by some, for many the delay will be seen as yet more uncertainty for the development industry, as a well as a failure by the Government to follow through on promises to protect and enhance the environment.

Developers, landowners and local authorities alike have been undertaking significant work in readiness for the introduction of the requirement, and this announcement will bring with it the inevitable costs of delay. Any further delay is likely to compound such costs and all parties will no doubt hope that the Government uses the time it has bought itself constructively, to ensure that the new regime is able to run fluidly from January.

As part of the announcement, the Government further confirmed that the introduction of the requirement in connection with small sites has not been delayed any further than had been previously announced and will proceed in April 2024.

Birketts has been advising a number of developers, landowners and local authorities in connection with the introduction of mandatory BNG. Should you have any questions regarding the issues raised in this article, please do not hesitate to contact Deborah Sharples, Head of Environment and Public Access to Land at Birketts or Jane Haviland or Edward Long, members of Birketts' Planning and Environment Team.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.