Countryside will flourish with the right biodiversity offsetting, says CLA

02 December 2013

The CLA today (12 November) responded to Environmental Audit Committee's report into biodiversity offsetting saying offsetting may not be easy, but we need to make it work if the countryside is to remain beautiful.

CLA Deputy President Henry Robinson said: "We understand the need to proceed cautiously. Biodiversity offsetting is a new and complicated topic and it is right that the Government's proposals are widely discussed.

 "We need to find new ways to pay for the wildlife and habitats we all want, and biodiversity offsetting may be the way to do it.

 "We simply cannot expect current levels of public funding for the natural environment to continue."

 The Association said it was pleased that the Committee's report highlighted the CLA's recommendation for a light touch approach, allowing developers to present a short statement to the planning authority describing how the mitigation hierarchy has been complied with.

Mr Robinson said: "We are pleased at the recognition that if biodiversity offsetting is to work, the system must be mandatory for developers. We won't achieve sufficient confidence from potential offset providers if it is purely voluntary."

Biodiversity offsetting is a system under which developers offset the environmental impact of their development by paying farmers and landowners to provide new habitats for wildlife.

The aims are to improve the way in which the planning system deals with biodiversity issues, by making it quicker and more certain, and to improve the state of the natural environment.

Mr Robinson added: "We strongly support the Government's desire to make offsetting a reality. It already exists in various forms in a number of other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Germany and parts of the US. 

"The circumstances in each country are different, and none of them provide a model we can directly copy but we must learn from their experiences and adapt them to the English countryside."