Lower Valley Farm Pilot Biodiversity Net Gain Scheme
Providing a solution to developers to meet their biodiversity gain requirements through an innovative landscape scale initiative
This is an exciting opportunity for developers to become part of a pioneering scheme and to be at the forefront of a strategic ecological opportunity area
We are are working with Cambridgeshire County Council to develop this pilot scheme in South Cambridgeshire which enables developers to secure biodiversity units ‘off-the-shelf’, delivering off-site biodiversity net gain for developments within the Cambridge area.
The site is located approximately 5 miles to the southeast of Cambridge City and 2 miles south of Fulbourn.
The site is approximately 140 hectares / 346 acres.
Click Here to download the project site boundary
The scheme is strategically located to provide significant opportunity to create habitats that connect to the wider surroundings and buffer ecological valuable sites.
- Within the Cambridge Nature Network
- Adjacent to the Roman Road SSSI
- Stepping stone to surrounding SSSIs including the Gog Magog Golf Course SSSI
Click here to download the plan showing the regional context
Landscape and Geology
The site and surrounding countryside are predominantly agricultural, comprising large fields bounded by hedgerows, as well as scattered small woodlands.
The land is characterised as shallow well drained calcareous course loamy and sandy soils over chalk rubble. Also, deep noncalcareous loamy soils in places.
Current Use and Baseline
The land is principally farmed for combinable crops. The Baseline Biodiversity Report documents that baseline habitat is predominantly arable with boundary hedgerows and small areas of woodland.
The site has significant potential for biodiversity uplift through the creation and enhancement of biodiverse habitats.
The scheme will see the creation of high-quality biodiverse habitats targeting ‘good’ condition as defined by the DEFRA Biodiversity Metric 3.0, comprising:
• Botanically diverse calcareous and other neutral grassland
Click Here for the landscape master plan
Strategic spatial planning of habitat delivery across the site has been undertaken and a robust and flexible long-term management structure is in place to maximise environmental outcomes.
An Environmental Management Plan has been developed to support the delivery of the scheme for the 30-year period.
Method and Terms for Securing Units
Biodiversity units which meet local developer compensation requirements in terms of habitat types and extents can be secured ‘off-the-shelf’.
An option for securing biodiversity units will be granted to developers, allowing them to obtain planning consent before funding the physical habitat creation/enhancement. The physical habitat creation works will commence once the option is called or in advance as an active habitat bank.
The principle objective of this scheme is to increase biodiversity within the site and provide habitat connectivity across the landscape.
Additionally, the scheme can contribute to a range of other ecosystem services including:
• Community access to nature
• Improved amenity value
• Improved air and water quality
• Natural flood attenuation
• Carbon sequestration
The scheme will see the existing arable farmland converted to biodiverse habitats through habitat creation and enhancement. The habitats will be managed for at least 30 years and will aim to achieve ‘good condition’.
The provision of biodiversity units ‘off-the-shelf’ reduces the risks and delays to developers in seeking credible solutions to satisfy off-site biodiversity gain requirements.
Key Scheme Benefits
There are huge advantages in delivering BNG requirements through a scheme of this nature:
- Providing significant contributions to recognised local ecological priorities
- Cost-effective delivery of high-quality habitat creation and enhancement at landscape scale
- Owned and administered by a highly credible and committed public body
- Greater confidence in the security of long-term sustainable management beyond the requisite contractual 30-year period
The scheme aligns with the South Cambridgeshire Biodiversity Strategy objectives and has the support of the Local Planning Authority and other key stakeholders