Latest BNG updates – What changed from BNG 4.0 to BNG Statutory Metric

17 Apr 2024 | 3 min read

Latest BNG updates – What changed from BNG 4.0 to BNG Statutory Metric

Defra’s Statutory Biodiversity Metric: What’s changed in the latest version?

The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) released the long-awaited Statutory Biodiversity Metric calculation tool, version 4.0, last March. Since then, Defra has collected more feedback and amended features, updating the tool to a final Statutory Metric.

The following is an informal look at what’s changed. The Statutory Biodiversity Metric calculation tool has advanced a long way to clarify what is required and expected in a biodiversity net gain (BNG) application. The official Defra summary of the differences is still to come, but here’s what we’ve noted:

  • “Irreplicable habitats” have been clarified and defined, as well as how the metric will handle enhancement and creation scenario changes. Also, regulations needed to support the designation of habitats as “irreplaceable” have now been published.
  • Two new sheets are now available to allow calculation of “unit shortfall” in the biodiversity metric calculation tool. Pre-populated by macros based on your input elsewhere in the tool, these sheets will help you to determine where on-site and off-site credits do not generate enough gains and statutory credits need to be purchased.
  • Small changes can be found in the multipliers and other background calculations in the metric tool.
  • Small changes add precision to wording on condition assessment and footnotes therein.
  • There is more clarity on reporting and plans needed to support your BNG application. This includes more detail on the habitat management and monitoring plan (HMMP) which is required for BNG applications reporting significant on-site gains. The HMMP offers a detailed plan, which depicts how the land will be managed over the 30-year BNG requirement. To provide a framework for drafting HMMP requirement, Natural England has released a non-compulsory template.
  • Guidance has also been provided on how to apply strategic significance multipliers. Additionally, the new metric includes clearer guidance regarding datasets to refer to where there is no published local nature recovery strategy (LNRS).
  • The Small Site Metric (SSM), a Microsoft Excel calculation tool that’s similar to the Statutory Biodiversity Metric, as well as guidelines for its use are now available.
  • New clarity is also provided on how to record a number of habitats, including subtidal and intertidal areas, and habitat mosaics: Namely, there are key changes to recording ditches in Floodplain Wetland Mosaics, and irreplaceable habitats.

AiDash will continue to monitor updates to BNG metrics and all things BNG. Check back often to stay up to date.

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