Former landfill site to become ‘biodiversity bank’ ahead of biodiversity net gain requirements

A former landfill site is set to become a “biodiversity bank”, after more than 86 acres of the brownfield site in Salford were set aside by a developer.

Peel L&P made the decision to set aside the land ahead of the 10% biodiversity net gain (BNG) requirement that was set  out in the Environment Act and which will come into effect in November 2023.

The ENDS Briefing: biodiversity net gain

The business said it will use the site, which borders the Bridgewater Canal in Boothstown, to offset the biodiversity requirements for its other sites. Work will include enhancing the area’s grassland and woodland habitats.

Peel is also working with Greater Manchester Ecology Unit, Natural England, and ecologist consultancy FPCR to develop a 30-year habitat management plan for the biodiversity bank site, according to About Manchester.

Speaking at the GMCA’s Greater Manchester Green Summit in Salford, Peel L&P’s sustainability & Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) director Jo Holden said: “We are really excited to make this firm commitment to starting our very first biodiversity bank and to work in partnership with local and national stakeholders to better understand how biodiversity banking can work for landowners, developers and the environment in the North of England.”

Holden also announced that the group will be demonstrating a minimum of 10% biodiversity net gain (BNG) on all new projects.The firm is also implementing a Ten-Year Biodiversity Action Plan at MediaCity, Salford and its homebuilding division, Northstone UK has submitted a planning application to the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit for Peel’s new Airie community in Bolton, which includes a BNG assessment.

This August, Peel L&P secured funding from the government’s Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF) to create biodiversity banks across the North of England.

Natural England is creating a registry of approved sites for BNG offsetting which will include public information about any site that is being used to deliver BNG and detail the baseline biodiversity value of the delivery site and the expected future biodiversity value of that site. The hope is that this register will stop developers taking advantage of the BNG system and that there is a transparent, public record setting out what existed on the site before its use to reduce the risk of fraudulent or misleading claims.