NCC advice to UK government on net environmental gain

This paper sets out the Natural Capital Committee’s (NCC) advice to the UK government on net environmental gain. It considers recent commitments to mandate net diversity gain and the broad goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan.

This could well be of some use in the forthcoming draft NPS on biodiversity.

In its 2017 advice to government on the 25 Year Environment Plan,the NCC proposed that the concept of natural capital net gain (environmental net gain) should be incorporated as a key policy intent within the government’s 25 YEP. The Committee welcomed its inclusion in the 25 YEP published in January 2018.

The NCC was, however, disappointed that the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)produced in 20182 maintained the much narrower concept of net biodiversity gain.

The revised NPPF did introduce net environmental gain language and a reference to natural capital enhancement, but it lacked a requirement for wider net environmental gains. Although the principle of reversing biodiversity decline is inherent within the NCC’s original recommendations, the natural environment is an interconnected system.

Changing one element inevitably affects the whole system and the ecosystem services it can deliver. Hence it is vital that the wider system and outcomes are considered.