The UK’s focus on increasing habitats for wildlife could hinder housebuilding on smaller sites warns the National Federation of Builders, NFB.
The trade body is concerned that rules which go live in November to increase biodiversity net gain, BNG, by ten per cent on all new housing developments will prove tricky for small sites.
NFB chief executive Richard Beresford said: “The UK’s biodiversity strategy is one focused on habitats, rather than biodiversity.”
The trade body warns that this means smaller sites, which need to maximise build out to be viable, will either lose homes or install arbitrary habitats or pay a tax for them to be installed elsewhere.
“However, with some small tweaks around the built environment which ‘builds in biodiversity’, the Government could create a world-leading biodiversity strategy and build on its recent successes, such as those seen in marine environments,” said Mr Beresford.
The NFB has successfully lobbied for green roofs to feature in the metric and would like to see other site design and fabric solutions to be included. These could include bird and bat boxes, raised fences for wildlife corridors and streetlights with spectrums that are kind to insects and bats.
Government urged to act quickly to add design and fabric to BNG rules
In February the Government responded to feedback over the new BNG rules, which are part of the environment act 2021, and said design and building fabric could be added to the metric.
However, the NFB has warned the Government it must implement this quickly if it wants to avoid SME housebuilders pulling out of the market.
Housing and planning policy head Rico Wojtulewicz said NFB House Building Association members were ready to offer their sites for trials.
“If successful that knowledge will not only ensure new development are part of, rather than a barrier to wildlife corridors, but ensure offsite solutions are more tailored to local need, while unlocking a marketplace for ecological innovation.”
He said similar trials in Finland and Germany had already proved successful.
Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said commercial finance lenders were keen for the BNG rules to be more flexible so that developing small sites would still be a viable option.