Spring Statement: Biodiversity net gain plans unveiled

13th March 2019

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Safia Bibi

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced plans to introduce biodiversity net gain requirements for all new developments in England in his Spring Statement today.

He also revealed that the government would launch a global study into the economic value of biodiversity and how it can drive growth, with a report due in October 2020.

Sustainability body IEMA welcomed the promise of mandatory biodiversity net gain requirements, although confusion remains as to how this initiative will be paid for.

Policy & Engagement Lead, Nick Blyth, said: “There appears to be no funding announcement to support public bodies to implement the welcome mandatory commitment on biodiversity net gain.

“The environment continues to be framed as a problem to sort. Clearly it is, but the economic opportunity is huge and in response, a transformative programme is needed.“

The chancellor also unveiled plans for a 'Future Homes Standard' by 2025 that ensures all new houses have low-carbon heating and “world-leading“ levels of energy efficiency.

This comes after the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said that the UK would not be able to meet its legally binding climate change targets unless almost all CO2 emissions from buildings are eliminated.

However, Blyth warned that the Future Homes Standard would not reverse earlier policy dismantling, such as the scrapping of the 2016 target for zero carbon homes.

Today's announcement also included a call for evidence on offsetting transport emissions, which will explore whether travel providers should be required to offer carbon offsets to customers.

And to help critical habitats, the government said it would support calls from the Ascension Island Council to designate 443,000 square kilometers of its waters as a Marine Protected Area.

But amid a surge of school children protesting against climate change, and a wave of local councils declaring a climate emergency, Blyth said the government had failed to respond adequately.

“In relation to the environment, some of the details behind the headlines don't match the step-change needed,“ he added.

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