The Green Offset was launched one year ago offering an online service pairing those seeking land to site natural capital schemes with landowners keen to explore opportunities for diversification into these emerging markets. There is now more than 36,000 hectares of land registered on the platform providing a bank of land for offset seekers to explore.
The platform was created to help develop the market for natural capital services which are largely driven by biodiversity net gain policy contained within the Environment Act, but climate change policy and concerns around water quality and carbon are also driving markets for these services.
The Green Offset website enables ‘Offset Seekers’ – developers, companies or individuals looking for land for environmental requirements - to search for suitable sites. Landowners, referred to as ‘Offset Providers’, can easily and freely register their land on the website, showing that they are potentially open to discussion and negotiation around siting an environmental scheme on their land.
The Environment Act, which gained Royal Assent in November 2021, provides the primary legislation for the introduction of mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) as well as Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) and legally binding environmental targets. BNG means that developers will not only be required to avoid a loss in biodiversity but deliver a 10 per cent biodiversity net gain as part of any planning consent. Where a net gain in biodiversity cannot be delivered within a development site, biodiversity offsets will be required to establish compensatory habitats elsewhere within the planning authority or county. These will need to be delivered for 30 years through legally binding agreements. However, there are many elements of BNG and other natural capital services which require further clarity.
The policy is still in its early days and this legislation will not be mandatory across England until November 2023. However, several local authorities have already implemented net gain planning policies and some developers and utility companiesies are already voluntarily providing it as part of their projects as they start to recognise the long term benefit it will have on the environment and the communities we live in.
The Green Offset is a simple, free, and useful platform allowing landowners to start exploring offset based diversifications on their land.
We are already working with several landowners to assess approaches they have had through the platform and will continue to develop the platform as policy develops. We are now calling on even more landowners and ‘Seekers’ to visit the website to find out more about how the platform can assist in these emerging natural capital markets.
For further information about the service, visit the Green Offset website here