River Biodiversity Net Gain Units

Thames21 is seeking to hear from potential buyers of watercourse Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) units. Our charity is developing a network of ‘shovel ready’ restoration projects across London, which will be developed into a River Habitat Bank to help meet your off-site unit needs.

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is an approach to new development and land management that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than before, by a value of 10% or more. The legal derivation of this is set out in the Environment Act 2021, becomes mandatory in January 2024.

The government wants a market for buying and selling biodiversity land to be created – this goes beyond planning. As a last resort, developers may purchase statutory ‘biodiversity credits’ from the government.

If you are a developer, the law requires you to achieve a 10% uplift in the biodiversity of the site, either through enhancing the sites biodiversity or by delivering this offsite. If you are a developer, we encourage and could support you to deliver on your site. If this isn’t possible we can deliver the offsite units which you would need to purchase.

Onsite means on the land your development work is on. Offsite is either your own land away from the development site, or you have bought units from a land manager. If you cannot use onsite or offsite land, you must buy statutory credits from the government. 

Under the new rules, you must provide evidence for using this option. This must be a last resort. The government will invest in habitat creation elsewhere in England. There is the option to buy these before the commencement of development. You may be able to combine all three options to make up your BNG.

If you’re a land manager, you can get paid by selling biodiversity units. You must be a land manager with land in England, with consent to register land if you’re not the landowner, and a legal agreement for the land you’re registering.

If you’re a local planning authority, you will have to approve a biodiversity net gain plan for development work before it can start. Biodiversity Net Gain will apply exclusively to new applications for planning permission.

We are working with several councils and landowners in London and the Thames Basin to develop and design projects and quantify the uplift in river biodiversity net gain units which they generate. Our initial scoping works across London has identified the potential to deliver more than 25 river biodiversity units. This compares very favourably with the government’s credit price.

We are working with the landowners who are interested in delivering restoration works to sell the river biodiversity net gain units to developers who require them. To do this, Thames21 along with landowners need to establish the demand for these units. Therefore, we are seeking to hear from potential buyers of river biodiversity units.

We are inviting potential buyers of watercourse units within London or further afield to register their interest. Please contact tom.whitehead@thames21.org.uk to learn more.