Alton Town Council is investigating whether new planning legislation introducing ‘biodiversity net gain’ can raise funds for work on Kings Pond and other green spaces.

Biodiversity net gain (BNG) is an approach to development and land management that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than before.

The word biodiversity is short for biological diversity and refers to the variety of all living organisms, including animals, birds, insects, plants, bacteria and fungi.

Under the Environment Act 2021 almost all English planning permissions will have to produce at least a ten per cent BNG from April. BNG will be calculated by Defra and all habitat gains must be maintained for at least 30 years.

If a developer cannot achieve BNG on their site they can buy credits for BNG to be achieved elsewhere.

Alton Town Council said: “This is a potential source of funds to enhance our green spaces. We are exploring potential opportunities for delivering biodiversity net gains on our sites and selling the associated biodiversity units to developers.

“Kings Pond is the obvious site where work will need funding soon. The first step in finding out if BNG credits can provide some of this funding was to undertake a baseline assessment of the site using the Defra biodiversity system.

“We appointed RPS Group to make the baseline assessment and to draft a BNG strategy for the site. This was completed in December and the report is available on the council website.

“The report indicates that the potential funds that could be raised by selling BNG credits for improvements to the Kings Pond site could be more than £1 million. This figure is exciting but must be viewed with great caution. In practice it may not be possible to achieve many of the biodiversity gains the report assumes.”

Woodland south of Kings Pond will be considered for BNG potential first.