SOMERSET Council is seeking public input on the implementation of new Biodiversity Net Gain rules.

The government's incoming Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) planning legislation, anticipated to be enacted in January, demands that planning applications for new developments contribute positively to nature, replacing any habitats and green spaces eliminated during construction.

Developers are urged to introduce these natural enhancements within their sites or, if unfeasible, in strategically significant off-site locations.

Bridgwater Mercury: The government's incoming Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) planning legislation is anticipated to be

Should both options be impossible, the developer can purchase government credits to finance habitat creation elsewhere.

The national BNG legislation can be customised at a local level.

Somerset Council is at the helm of introducing the rules in Somerset and is passionate about getting it right for the region.

The council is collecting views from the public and various interested groups and organisations on its BNG approach.

An online public consultation is currently in progress, encouraging responses from diverse interested parties including the public, planning applicants, developers, planning agents, ecologists, landowners, land managers, land agents, site promoters, and nature conservation bodies.

The deadline for comments is midnight on December 4.

Furthermore, physical copies of the consultation documents are accessible at countless locations across Somerset, with responses accepted over email or mailed to Somerset Council's County Hall in Taunton.

Councillor Ros Wyke, Lead Member for Economic Development, Planning and Assets, commented: "Local planners and developers are tackling two challenges that can sometimes be seen as competitive – building much needed new homes and protecting and restoring nature.

"Through BNG, they are in an ideal position to build not just sustainable houses, but new, sustainable communities, where people can thrive alongside nature.

"We encourage anyone with an interest in planning and new development to take part in the consultation."

Councillor Dixie Darch, Lead Member for Environment and Climate, echoed this sentiment, stating: "We welcome the BNG legislation as a key lever to a greener more sustainable Somerset, a priority set out in our council plan.

"The BNG requirement also sets out a legal agreement to commit and monitor any habitat gains for the long term (over 30 years). New habitats take time to become established and this will ensure they are secured."