Regulations now expected to come into force next month
New rules for biodiversity net gain (BNG) have been delayed again and will now come into force next month.
The regulations were due to come into force on large sites this month, having already been pushed back from November.
But according to a report in The Times newspaper, they will now be postponed again due to secondary legislation being introduced to parliament late.
A first set of statutory instruments (SI) related to the policy, which mandates a 10% net gain on all sites, were approved by a delegated legislation committee earlier this week.
Introducing these regulations to the committee, parliamentary under-secretary for nature Rebecca Pow said a second package of SIs would be put before parliament “next week”.
The policy is due to be rolled out for smaller sites from April and for nationally significant infrastructure projects in 2025. It is unclear how the latest delay will affect these plans.
A Defra spokesperson said: “Mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain will ensure new developments work for both wildlife and people – and just this week the first package to support these measures was passed in Parliament.
“We will now, subject to parliamentary timing, press ahead with the next set of legislation with a view to going live as soon as possible.”
Angus Walker, partner at law firm BDB Pitmans, said: “Today’s report that BNG rules have once again been delayed is really quite frustrating, particularly for developers who need clear and consistent regulations in order to effectively plan projects.
“The Government has been clear that its goal is for a BNG market to evolve, one in which landowners improve land and sell it to developers, with BNG brokers acting as intermediaries.
“Without this market BNG legislation will make developers’ work unnecessarily challenging, yet every delay in bringing the rules into force means more time where BNG land providers and brokers are without an income, disincentivising investment in what could be a promising new income source for landowners.
“It is to be hoped that this delay is only a short one of a week or two, hopefully to be revealed via final regulations promised for next week.”
According to research by property consultancy Carter Jones, published earlier this month, an increasing number of local authorities are adopting policies that will exceed the 10% requirement.
Its research said three had already adopted policies mandating more than 10%, while 17 local planning authorities had such a policy emerging through their local plan review.
Kingston upon Thames and Tower Hamlets have emerging policies that could require a minimum 30% net gain.