In February, the House of Lords began a consultation on the impact of environmental regulations on development.
The consultation was intended to “assess the governance, the associated costs for developers and promoters, and the impact on the delivery of projects, of nationally defined environmental regulations in England”. It comes on the eve of biodiversity net gain (BNG) requirements being introduced into the planning system later this year and following the publication of the government’s Environmental Improvement Plan.
To develop its response, IEMA held a workshop with members and key stakeholders in this area, many of whom work in the built environment. IEMA’s response recommended the following:
- There are many challenges to developers in implementing environmental regulations but the most significant is uncertainty. Government agencies should be providing more information, guidance and practical examples for business. This would help stakeholders to feel confident to start to implement new requirements and take advantage of opportunities such as biodiversity markets.
- Resourcing is key to success in the implementation of environmental regulations, and responsible agencies must be resourced and upskilled sufficiently, including in order to undertake environmental monitoring.
- Information needs to be easier to find, and this includes licensing, regulations, different requirements across schemes – such as Nature Recovery Network, environmental land management and BNG schemes – and across nations.
- Environmental requirements should not always be seen and referred to as costs; they can be better communicated and treated like an investment in resources for the future of biodiversity and the economy. There are opportunities as well as costs in environmental legislation.
The cost of not meeting environmental needs is a further increase in the decline in species that we have seen in the past 10 years, which is part of an overall downward trend in species abundance since 1970.