To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of local authorities’ ability to implement the biodiversity net gain system in respect of their (a) resourcing and (b) technical staffing levels; and what plans his Department has to allocate additional funding to support local authorities to implement the biodiversity net gain system.
The Government’s impact assessment of our biodiversity net gain policy indicates a total cost to Local Government during the two year transition period of £8.4 million and an annual cost of £8.4 million per year thereafter. Our impact assessment draws on the Government’s 2018 consultation on mandating net gain for biodiversity and subsequent engagement with individual local planning authorities and sector bodies. Based on this, we estimate that an average of 1.3 Full-time Equivalent (FTE) hours (between 1-4FTE) of specialist ecologist advice will be required in any given year per upper tier local authority to implement a mandatory biodiversity net gain system.
The Government has committed to fully fund all new burdens on local authorities arising from the Environment Bill. The Government has also committed to work in partnership with Local Government on the implementation of the measures in the Bill to identify and secure the capacity and skills needed.
A full impact assessment of the biodiversity net gain policy, which includes our assessment of new burdens on local authorities, has been published alongside the Bill: