This consultation accompanies ‘Biodiversity Offsetting in England’ a consultation document published on 5 September 2013. This document sets out options for the Government’s proposed biodiversity offsetting system and poses questions about how the system may best operate. This online survey is your chance to provide feedback on the document.
England faces the twin challenges of growing its economy and improving its natural environment. We will not achieve these goals unless our planning system is fit-for-purpose.
Our economy cannot afford expensive and inefficient planning processes that unnecessarily delay or block the housing and infrastructure our economy needs to grow.
Our environment cannot afford development which continues to eat away at nature. So we must maintain and improve our ecosystems, air, water and soils as they underpin sustainable economic growth in the long-term.
However, as the Ecosystems Market Task Force and Natural Capital Committee have both said, there is a way we can make our planning system better: biodiversity offsetting.
Biodiversity offsetting is a measurable way to ensure we make good the residual damage to nature caused by development which cannot be avoided or mitigated. This guarantees there is no net loss to biodiversity from development and can often lead to net gain for nature. It will not change existing safeguards in the planning system, but makes it quicker and simpler to agree a development’s impacts to ensure losses are properly compensated for. Offsetting can also help create a ready market to supply compensation for residual damage to nature.
Countries as diverse as Australia, Germany, India and the United States and more than 20 others are already using offsetting.
In May 2013, the Secretary of State for Defra held an offsetting summit at which he heard the views of developers, conservation bodies, planning professionals, economists and others. This confirmed the level of interest in the concept and that the success, or failure, of offsetting will depend on the detail of the scheme we adopt.
This feedback, evidence from our Biodiversity Offsetting Pilots and offsetting systems abroad form the basis of our consultation document and we welcome your views.