WSP has been commissioned by Natural England and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to produce guidance on biodiversity net gain (BNG). The firm will be partnered by Dorset-based ecological consultancy, Footprint Ecology.
The project is the first city-wide study of its kind to take place in the UK. It will see a team of ecology experts examine and devise clear guidance for Greater Manchester’s local authorities, developers, NGOs and businesses to help embed and encourage BNG principles on a city-wide scale.
The ecology team is being led by technical director Tom Butterworth, and supported by Footprint Ecology director Rachel Hoskin. It will work alongside a local stakeholder task group to provide workshops and mesh its work with the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework – which seeks to ensure the urban area has land available to deliver housing up to 2035 – as well as the GMCA Natural Capital investment strategy.
The role will also see the team examine:
- Better risk management from quantifying gains and losses in biodiversity;
- The benefits of building local private and public partnerships;
- Enhanced clarity and new investment opportunities for businesses;
- Demonstrating long-term contributions to local communities, including health and well-being benefits.
Butterworth said: "WSP is currently involved in a number of pilots across Manchester where we are working with developers to look at the possibility for gains through development if BNG was incorporated from the outset. We are looking at sites retrospectively to see what impact BNG could have had and, if certain elements had been done differently, what gains could be made financially, on site viability as well as ecologically."
The project was influenced by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s greener vision for the city. Earlier this year, Burnham announced the publication of a report outlining a greener vision for the city which includes "a thriving natural environment" in which biodiversity is conserved.
Initial work has already begun on the project which is due to be completed in early 2019.