On 25 April infrastructure firm Balfour Beatty launched the latest of its public policy papers, “A Better Balance: A Roadmap to Biodiversity Net Gain”. The paper calls for action to address the perceived tension between construction and the environment, through nine core recommendations.
In spite of the progress in tackling environmental issues over the past decade, much of the focus has been on carbon, waste and water. Given the UK’s substantial investment in infrastructure over the next 20 years, which is helping to deliver improvements in transport, broadband, energy, flood defenses and housing, a new approach is required to counter the loss of biodiversity from continued infrastructure investment across the country.
Biodiversity Net Gain is a concept which is set to gain increasing traction over the coming years, says the firm. It focuses on enriching biodiversity as a result of construction works, leaving a positive environmental legacy once works have completed.
Balfour Beatty says it has been leading the way, with a number of other organisations¹, to develop a set of good practice principles, which provide an effective way for infrastructure projects to deliver ‘net gains’ in biodiversity that in turn deliver the Government’s biodiversity commitments.
The firms says the good practice principles are built upon its tried-and-tested Biodiversity Net Gain model, which has received wide acclaim from industry and statutory bodies including Natural England. The principles focus on avoiding biodiversity losses wherever possible; quantifying any losses incurred with gains in biodiversity to plan, budget, design, build and maintain Net Gain; and delivering Net Gain in collaboration with local stakeholders.
Phil Clifton, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty’s Highways business, said: “By considering Biodiversity Net Gain as early as possible and ensuring that Biodiversity Net Gain measures are incorporated in the design, programme and budget, projects can generate long-term benefits for nature as well as wider benefits for society and the economy.
“It is imperative that we take action on this now so we can square the circle of how to deliver the infrastructure the country urgently needs, in a way which leaves an environmental legacy to be proud of.”
Balfour Beatty’s paper, “A Better Balance: A Roadmap to Biodiversity Net Gain” details nine recommendations, which amongst others, call for Biodiversity Net Gain to be made an obligatory part of the UK’s planning policies. The paper is available to read here.
¹Partner organisations include: CIRIA, IEMA and CIEEM