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Biodiversity and planning

The council works to protect and enhance biodiversity through the land use planning system to help ensure our local environment is better protected for future generations.

Local plan

The council’s local plan only permits development where it protects trees, habitats and the landscape. In addition, it seeks to increase the overall biodiversity, a process known as biodiversity net gain (BNG). BNG is an approach which aims to leave biodiversity in a measurably better state than before a proposed development goes ahead. Where the development of land will lead to losses of biodiversity, developers can pay to create habitat of equal or greater value to wildlife. This is called biodiversity offsetting and is a key mechanism to deliver biodiversity net gain. 

The council pioneered BNG in 2013 by introducing the first successful biodiversity offsetting agreement in the UK. Since then, the council along with South Oxfordshire District Council, has raised more than £850,000 towards off site biodiversity gains, in addition to increased biodiversity achieved on development sites.

The councils are currently preparing a new Joint Local Plan which aims to new ambitious targets for BNG in line with the new requirements of the Environment Act 2021.

Neighbourhood plans and nature

Neighbourhood plans offer an opportunity for communities to improve their local environment for wildlife and people. Having nature protection and enhancement as an integral part of a neighbourhood plan can also help to manage environmental risk and improve resilience to climate change.

The council has neighbourhood planning resources, including examples of policies on biodiversity in other neighbourhood plans, that can help.

In addition to biodiversity policies, communities may want to create a Nature Recovery Plan. The Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre can provide environmental information to support the development of neighbourhood and community plans.

Oxfordshire Treescapes can support parishes with their plans, as well as creating a specialised report which highlights where and how tree and hedge planting can be best used.

Developer contributions to enhance biodiversity

As well Biodiversity Net Gain (see above), additional contributions are collected to compensate for the impacts of new developments.

These have been used for tree planting and to create new wildlife habitats to support nature recovery.

Contact us - Climate and biodiversity team

Vale of White Horse District Council
Abbey House
Abbey Close
OX14 3JE