Policy update - Biodiversity offsetting

5th July 2013

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  • Construction ,
  • Agriculture ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Ecosystems ,
  • Biodiversity



Nick Blyth, IEMA policy and practice lead, looks at recent development on biodiversity offsetting

After a recent summit hosted by environment secretary Owen Paterson, Defra is producing a green paper on biodiversity offsetting with the intention of running a consultation later in the summer.

At the event, commentators offered a number of perspectives. Dieter Helm, chair of the government’s natural capital committee, for example, shared his belief that offsetting has the potential to help meet the goal set in the natural environment white paper of the current generation being the first to improve the environment.

Meanwhile, John Slaughter, director of external affairs at the Home Builders’ Federation, focused on the need for transparency in any offsetting system, while another participant, Kerry ten Kate, a director at Trends and head of the firm’s business and biodiversity offsets programme, made the case for a mandatory system.

In highlighting the need to develop a clear set of conservation priorities to inform when developments on one type of habitat could be offset by improvements to another, she stressed the importance of preparing a system properly, launching it decisively and allowing enough time for it to become properly established.

Having the right skills and enough capacity were vital issues, she said. Ten Kate also set out a three-tier system for biodiversity offsetting, with simple and swift offset transactions for the lowest biodiversity impacts; a more rigorous approach for more serious impacts and, potentially, an independent review for the most significant impacts.

In earlier consultations on offsetting, IEMA raised a number of concerns with Defra and the ecosystems market taskforce.

These centred on the importance of the mitigation hierarchy and on ensuring “additionality” and offsets in perpetuity.

Members can find out more via the IEMA policy hub at iema.net/biodiversity-ecosystems.

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