Natural Capital and Biodiversity Net Gain

As environmental concerns increasingly influence development projects, both developers and landowners are seeking ways to diversify and benefit the environment. The world of natural capital is evolving rapidly, presenting new opportunities and challenges. We are here to help you navigate this complex landscape, ensuring you maximise benefits and minimise the risks in these innovative and emerging solutions.

What is natural capital?

Natural capital deals with the creation and trading of units of gain to offset perceived harms to the natural environment. This can cover the offsetting of increased nitrogen and phosphorus in our waterways as a result of development, and the trading of carbon credits. It also includes biodiversity net gain (“BNG”).

What is biodiversity net gain (BNG)?

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is a method for creating and enhancing natural habitats. Since February 2024, all major housing developments need to deliver at least a 10% benefit for nature. Smaller sites were included from April 2024. The result is that development projects provide a measurable positive impact on biodiversity, achieving a ‘net gain’ compared to the pre-development state.

In 2025, we expect to see BNG rolled out for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects.

Services for landowners and developers

We assist both landowners and developers with natural capital schemes and biodiversity net gain requirements. We work collaboratively with other advisors, such as land agents, accountants and tax advisors to develop comprehensive solutions.

Typically, areas which we advise on includes:

  • Nitrate migration solutions: Advising on section 106 agreements to promote nitrate mitigation solutions
  • Phosphate mitigation solutions: Advising on section 106 agreements to promote phosphate mitigation solutions.
  • Off site biodiversity net gain (BNG) units: Advising on section 106 agreements and conservation covenants to create off site BNG units.
  • Sale of BNG Units: Managing the sale process for biodiversity net gain
  • Nitrate and phosphate credits: Handling the sale of nitrate credits and phosphate credits.
  • Service agreements for rewilding and habitat management: Setting up service agreements and other arrangements for rewilding and of natural habitat management
  • Habitat migration for development: Providing advice on section 106 agreements and management agreements to address habitat mitigation in development projects.

Why use Trethowans?

Trethowans has been advising on the emerging area of natural capital law since its inception and has considerable experience in setting up and administering natural capital schemes. The combined experience of our team in dealing with rural property and development puts us in a perfect position to be able to assist with schemes that satisfy the requirements of the developer and the landowner.

Trethowans are highly recommended in the Chambers UK and Legal 500 UK Guides, with the team ranked Band 1 for agricultural and rural affairs in The South.

We are also members of the Environmental Farmers Group, a farmer-owned, farmer-led cooperative, utilising extensive ecological scientific research to produce quality assured, natural capital goods and a positive environmental impact on a landscape scale.

If you need expert advice in relation to natural capital or biodiversity net gain, please contact our solicitors today on 0800 2800 421.

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