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New planning rules put nature at the heart of development

West Norfolk

Published: Wednesday, 7th February 2024

New rules have come into force that will make sure planning applications show how they will make nature better off as a result of proposed development.

The Biodiversity Net Gain rules will affect most new developments apart from small-scale self-builds and alterations/extensions to existing properties.

Cllr Jim Moriarty, deputy leader of the borough council and cabinet member for development, said:

“Protecting our environment is one of the four key priorities in the council’s corporate strategy so the enactment of this legislation is good news that will help us to achieve our aim.

“We will be working with applicants and landowners to make implementation a success.”

The Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) regulations have been implemented as part of the Environment Act, 2021, and aim to ensure that any loss of nature or habitat caused by development is mitigated by creation of new habitats.

In future, developments will need to result in a BNG of 10%, i.e. once the development is complete there must be an improvement of 10% to the habitat that existed before the development took place.

Where possible, the improvement must be on the development site itself. Where that is not possible BNG can be achieved through the purchase of ‘units’ from a specially-developed nature site elsewhere.

The borough council’s role as the planning authority in West Norfolk is to ensure that new planning applications meet this requirement and to support landowners who may have sites they are interested in developing for nature, and which can be used to sell units to planning applicants. It will also provide a matchmaking service between applicants and landowners.

Cllr Michael de Whalley, the council’s cabinet member for climate change and biodiversity, said:

“We know that one of the primary concerns people have about new development is the loss of habitats that it causes so this is really good news for nature.

“We all know the problems that nature is facing and as biodiversity champion for this borough I will be doing everything I can to ensure West Norfolk gains the maximum possible benefit from these changes.”

More information for applicants and landowners is available on the planning section of the council’s website at

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