Defra's ground-breaking trials of biodiversity offsets began on 2 April
The plans see local authorities working with organisations to offset the damage caused by development projects through the remediation of land of “equal biodiversity value” elsewhere.
The two-year pilots will run in six areas: Coventry, Warwickshire and Solihull, Essex, Devon, Greater Norwich, Doncaster, and Nottinghamshire. Natural England will manage the pilots, supporting the participating local authorities in their approach to biodiversity and ensuring the quality and consistency of offsets across the pilot areas.
While Defra confirms that, in terms of mitigation of the environmental impacts of developments, offsetting should be a last resort, offsets could provide an effective way to provide the “net gain in biodiversity” aimed for in the government’s new national planning policy framework (see 'Planning reforms get behind growth' article).