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Exeter is home to the first registered “habitat bank” in the country

Published: 22 March 2024

Exeter is home to the first registered “habitat bank” in the country Duryard Valley Park habitat bank

Devon County Council and Exeter City Council have worked closely with Devon-based Bio Gains Limited to register the privately owned 3.2 hectare site in Duryard Valley Park.

The ground-breaking initiative follows the introduction of the new Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) planning laws which require all qualifying planning permissions to demonstrate that development of a site will achieve a net gain in biodiversity of more than 10% compared with beforehand.

If developers are unable to deliver habitat enhancements on-site, they can either choose to undertake the work elsewhere themselves or they can purchase them from a provider of a habitat bank.

The habitat bank in Exeter will be enhanced predominantly into lowland meadow, which is a national priority habitat. There will also be around 260 metres of new and enhanced species-rich hedgerow and some small areas of scrub.

Cllr Josie Parkhouse, Exeter’s Lead Councillor for Climate and Ecological Crisis, said: “This is a fantastic achievement.

“Enhancing biodiversity is so important not only for reversing the decline in habitats and species, but also in tackling the climate crisis and improving our general health and wellbeing. It’s hoped more landowners get in touch from across the city and embrace this new opportunity.”

Cllr Andrea Davis, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, said: “Well done to everyone involved in establishing this national first habitat bank. It’s an excellent achievement and demonstrates the importance we attach to our local environment.

“There is plenty of scope for more landowners across the county to work with their local planning authorities to establish even more habitat banks in Devon.”

Jon Garner, Director of BioGains Ltd, said: “BioGains is proud to be the first habitat bank provider to have a site placed on the national register and we thank the officers of Exeter City Council and Devon County Council in helping us achieve this milestone.

“We are close to launching a number of further habitat banks across Devon as part of our mission to have a registered habitat bank in every local planning authority across the South West.” 

The new regulations require all land such as habitat banks, created for the purposes of BNG, should be legally secured under a management and monitoring agreement for 30 years through either a Section 106 with a Local Planning Authority, or through the newly introduced Conservation Covenants.

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