For many decades the English planning system has included a process whereby ecological damage caused by a development can be counteracted by creating positive ecological outcomes nearby, either elsewhere on the development site, or off-site. This system had mixed success.

Since January 2024 it has become a legal requirement that new development must deliver a net gain for nature. This is known as Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) and it is achieved by creating new habitats, for example planting a new woodland or sowing a wildflower meadow. The idea of BNG is that a new development has a measurably positive impact (‘net gain’) on biodiversity, compared to what was there before development. Developers must deliver a BNG of at least 10% but organisations like ours are pressing for this to be higher.

Often developers will be able to provide the BNG required within their own development or on land they own. However, when this is not possible, developers can buy into habitat creation carried out by other landowners.

Cambridge Past, Present & Future (CPPF) has an active program of habitat creation on land we own. If the biodiversity gain from our new habitats is measured then they can be registered as ‘habitat banks’ and this creates the possibility that a developer can buy some of the biodiversity ‘credits’ in our habitat bank. This could provide a source of financing that would enable us to scale up our work to benefit nature and public well-being at Coton Reserve.

The following principles will guide CPPF decisions on Biodiversity Net Gain delivery on CPPF land:

  • ensure no overall net loss to biodiversity and secure genuinely additional and permanent gains in biodiversity to support nature’s recovery
  • ensure CPPF provides good quality habitat schemes in a consistent way, which inspires confidence in CPPF and environmental services generally
  • ensure transparency
  • ensure a diligent approach when selling biodiversity units

You can read our full BNG Policy (click here), which sets out how this will be achieved.

Any approach to buy credits from us would be the subject of very careful scrutiny. We would have to be satisfied that any planning application had been carefully considered and all the correct processes followed before permission had been given. We will also make it clear that any offer to buy BNG from CambridgePPF will not remove any objection that we may have to a particular development. We will continue to oppose and campaign against harmful development proposals.

Our BNG habitat bank is at Coton Reserve, on the western edge of Cambridge. We are creating a range of new habitats including woodland, scrub, meadow and wetland. If you would like to contact us about buying BNG credits please email [email protected] or call 01223 243830