Which sites are exempt from BNG?

Which sites are exempt from BNG?

You might be pondering the question: Which sites are exempt from BNG?

Several types of developments are exempt from Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) requirements in the UK. Here’s a breakdown of the main categories:

Existing Planning Applications: Developments with planning applications submitted before February 12, 2024 (the mandatory BNG start date) are exempt.

Developments Below the Threshold: Projects with minimal impact on biodiversity qualify for exemption if they meet certain criteria:

  • They don’t affect any priority habitat.
  • The development impacts less than:
    – 25 square meters of non-priority habitat.
    – 5 linear meters of habitats like hedgerows (hedgerow is a boundary line of closely spaced shrubs or small trees).
  • Householder Applications: Minor building works like home extensions typically undertaken by homeowners are exempt.

Self-build and Custom Housebuilding: Small-scale self-build and custom housebuilding projects qualify if they meet all these conditions:

  • No more than 9 dwellings are built.
  • The total site area is no larger than 0.5 hectares (around 1.2 acres).
  • The dwellings are exclusively for self-build or custom housebuilding as defined by specific legislation.

Other Exemptions:

  • Developments specifically for biodiversity gain.
  • High-speed rail projects.
  • There may be other exemptions; it’s best to consult with the relevant authorities for the latest information.


What is Amazon Climate Pledge Friendly?

What is Amazon Climate Pledge Friendly?

Amazon Climate Pledge Friendly is an initiative launched by Amazon to assist customers in finding and purchasing more sustainable products. Here’s a breakdown of the program:

  • Product identification: It highlights products that have achieved a certain level of sustainability through certifications.
  • Certification bodies: It involves collaboration with trusted third-party certifiers and also uses Amazon’s own certifications.
  • Focus areas: The program emphasizes various aspects of sustainability, including reduced life cycle impact, recycled content and eco-friendly packaging.
  • Product variety: Climate Pledge Friendly encompasses a wide range of products across various categories like household goods, fashion, electronics, and more.
This is a green oblong badge with the words climate pledge friendly in white to the right of the green oblong is a sand timer or egg timer with angelic style wings coming out of the side

Climate Pledge Friendly Logo

Overall, this program aims to:

  • Raise customer awareness: It educates consumers about sustainable choices available on the platform.
  • Facilitate eco-conscious shopping: The Climate Pledge Friendly badge helps customers easily identify products with sustainability certifications.
  • Promote eco-friendly practices: It encourages manufacturers to adopt sustainable practices in their products and processes.

How Do I Get the Amazon Climate Pledge Friendly Badge?

Earning the Climate Pledge Friendly badge on your Amazon product involves demonstrating its sustainability credentials. Here’s how you can approach it:

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Certification: Your product needs to meet specific sustainability standards established by independent bodies or Amazon’s own criteria.
  • Category Benchmarks: Amazon evaluates product efficiency within a particular category. Products exceeding the designated unit efficiency thresholds (e.g., reduced packaging size) for their category can qualify.

Steps to Acquire the Badge:

  1. Life Cycle: For a carbon neutral product you will need to work out how much carbon is in the product.
  2. Offset: Offset is purchased to cover the amount of carbon to offset.
  3. Certification: Obtain relevant sustainability certifications from independent organizations.

  4. Amazon’s Sustainability Standards: Alternatively, your product might meet Amazon’s internal sustainability standards for specific categories like “Compact by Design.”

  5. Seller Central Application: Through Seller Central, navigate to “Products, Listings, or Inventory” and select “Climate Pledge Friendly.” Provide essential details about your product, including any certifications, and submit the application.

Additional Resources:

Benefits the Amazon Climate Pledge Friendly Badge?

  • Fulfilling the program’s requirements can enhance your product’s visibility and potentially attract eco-conscious customers.
  • Continuously improving your product’s sustainability aspects can strengthen your eligibility for the badge in the long run.

Good Products & Bad Products Amazon Climate Pledge Friendly Badge?

We have carried out life cycle assessment for many products on Amazon. From a feasibility point of view (from the sellers perspective) some work better than others.

Case Study 1 (Bad) – Yoga Matt

A yoga matt is a bulky item, that is made from plastic (polymers). Plastic has a relatively high carbon footprint (1 kg of plastic might emit 8kg of CO2e) so the problem with putting a Climate Pledge Friendly Badge on a yoga matt is that it may push the cost of the yoga matt quite high, and people will stop buying it.

A 0.5kg yoga matt will require around 4kg of carbon offsets, and as such the price might increase from say £10 to £11, this might make all the difference in a competitive volume based market.

Case Study 2 (Good) – Chopping Board

A wooden chopping board or butcher block would likely work out quite well. A 1kg wooden chopping board may emit only 0.5 kg of carbon per unit, and is sold for £12. To carbon offset would cost about £0.05 (5 pence) and as such the price barely changes.

Case Study 3 (Good) – Watch

An expensive watch may cost £100, and have arelaticly low carbon footprint, therefore any costs associated with offsets, would be proportionately small, and unlikely to impact on the sale price.

Top 5 Environmental Issues in Exeter

Top 5 Environmental Issues in Exeter

Here are the top 5 environmental issues in Exeter, Devon, UK. SWEL are Environmental Consultants based in Exeter, and are well placed to solve the below problems.

Air Pollution

Similar to many urban areas in the UK, Exeter struggles with air pollution. Traffic congestion, domestic solid fuel burning, and industrial activities contribute to elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM2.5) in the air. These pollutants can cause respiratory problems, heart disease, and even lung cancer.

Image of Air pollution in Exeter

Climate Change

Exeter, like most places globally, is experiencing the effects of climate change. This includes rising temperatures, increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like flooding and heatwaves, and rising sea levels. These changes pose a significant threat to the city’s infrastructure, natural environment, and public health.

Climate change will exacerbate flood risk in exeter.

Exeter City Council has made a Climate Emergency declaration, the Council’s Net Zero plan, and other sustainability initiatives: https://exeter.gov.uk/climate-emergency/net-zero-for-exeter/net-zero-exeter-2030-plan/

Biodiversity Loss

The natural habitats around Exeter are under threat from development, pollution, and climate change. This is leading to a decline in the number and diversity of plant and animal species in the area. The loss of biodiversity can have a knock-on effect on the entire ecosystem, impacting everything from water quality to food security.

“Government conservation policies such as rewilding, organic farming and ‘nature friendly farming’ measures can accelerate global biodiversity loss,” says Ian Bateman – University of Exeter 

Image of Biodiversity loss in Exeter

Waste Management

Exeter faces challenges in managing its waste effectively. The amount of waste generated by the city is increasing, putting pressure on landfill sites and making recycling and composting essential.

If you require a waste disposal service, it is important to check that the company and person taking the refuse away is properly licensed. If not then YOU could get fine.

Water Quality

While the overall water quality in Exeter is good, there are still concerns about pollution from agricultural runoff, sewage discharge, and industrial activity. Protecting water sources and reducing pollution is crucial for maintaining a healthy water supply for the city.

Sewage Works discharging in to the river Exe, such as Countess Wear Sewage Works, spilled raw sewage in to the River Exe 41 times in 2022, and other infrastructure associated with  Countess Wear Sewage Works (Pumping Stations) Spilled an additional 150 times during the same period.

Is B2 Planning Class OK for Permitted Waste Activities?

Is B2 Planning Class OK for Permitted Waste Activities?

We were contacted re. B2 Use for Permitted Waste Activity. We have obtained waste permits in the past for Permitted Waste Activities on sites with B2 planning use, and we have also had the use contested. This is our research, to clarify the matter.

pile of waste wood

B2 Planning Class for Permitted Waste Activity – General UK Wide Consensus

Class B2 (General Industrial):

  • Activities: Used for a wide range of industrial processes that don’t fall under Class E. This includes:
    • Manufacturing (For Example Plastic Bags)
    • Engineering
    • Production facilities
    • Machine construction/repair
    • Lighter industrial uses not suitable for residential areas due to factors like noise, fumes, or machinery.
  • Exclusions: B2 excludes:
    • Incineration
    • Chemical treatment of waste
    • Landfill or hazardous waste (these are considered “sui generis” uses)

So is it OK?

So in conclusion B2 planning use is acceptable for some permitted waste activities provided they don’t include:

  • incineration or
  • chemical treatment of waste or
  • landfill or
  • hazardous waste

So being these exclusions are now known a number of permitted waste activities that could be included under B2 planning use these might include:

  • waste transfer without treatment waste transport with physical treatment or thermal treatment that doesn’t involve burning.

So which Environmental Permits can be used with B2 Planning?

With regards to stand permit,therefore the below truncated list may apply:

However bespoke permits may also be suitable for use under B2 Planning Use.

So That’s It Then? I can use B2!

Unfortunately it is not quite as simple as it seams.

B2 planning use allows for a variety of industrial processes, but with limitations on waste activities. Here are some examples of waste activities that might be compatible with B2 use, but remember to check with your local authority for specific regulations:

Lower-impact processing:

  • Bulky waste sorting and processing: This could involve separating bulky items like furniture or appliances for reuse, recycling, or dismantling.
  • Construction and demolition waste processing: Sorting, crushing, or separating inert construction waste materials (e.g., concrete, bricks, wood) for recycling or reuse.
  • Paper and cardboard recycling: Sorting, baling, or shredding paper and cardboard for recycling facilities.

Important Considerations:

  • Intensity of the activity: B2 is unlikely to be suitable for large-scale or intensive waste processing activities. Noise, dust, and traffic volume associated with the activity should be within acceptable limits.
  • No treatment or disposal: B2 excludes waste incineration, chemical treatment, and landfill operations. These require specific planning permissions under a different class.
  • Local authority policies: Even for permitted activities, your local council might have additional restrictions within their plans for B2 use class areas.

Here are some examples of waste activities that would likely NOT be suitable for B2 use:

  • Chemical processing of hazardous waste
  • Large-scale incineration of waste
  • Landfill operations
  • Large-scale composting facilities (might be considered under B2 with limitations depending on odor and traffic)


It cannot be said for certain as to whether a B2 use is suitable for a Permitted Waste Activity. It probably will be provided the activity doesn’t involve :

  • Incineration
  • Chemical treatment of waste
  • Landfill or hazardous waste (these are considered “sui generis” uses)

But there are also interpretations around intensity and nature of treatments, and also local authority polices.

Whilst we not maged to find example of where a local policy may prevent B2 planning use for waste, we can envisage that “intensity” in particular could be interpreted to incorporate a broad set of meaning by local planning authorities.

Worked Example of Soakaway with Costings

Worked Example of Soakaway with Costings

This is a fairly inaccurate walkthrough of a soakaway design to BRE 365 and an estimation of costs for installation of the designed soak away.


Provided here is a worked example of a soakaway designed to BRE 365.

The soakaway is receiving  water from a roof of 323m2.

The site is set of sandy clay soil. With a permeability of 9X10-6 (Reference Value)

1:100 year rainfall event. With 40% climate change allowance.

Size of Soakaway is 22 m3.

Soakaway dimensions are 2 meters by 11 meters. And consists of crate type modular system.


Below costs, for crate soakaway:

  • Crates: 110 crates at £30 each. £3300
  • Digger: £500
  • Soil Disposal: 40 tons @ £10 ton. £400
  • Pipe Work: £500
  • Labour: £2000

Total cost: Approximately £7000, with VAT on top probably.

Case Study

How much can I earn from BNG Credits?

How much can I earn from BNG Credits?

It has recently been requested of us to supply a client with a quote for BNG (Biodiversity Net Gain) Credits for a site near Chard and assessment of Carbon Credit Scoping.

This request is becoming more frequent as landowners may be interested in land use change, such as adapting disused or hard to manage land into biodiversity encouraging habitats.

Good areas to use for biodiversity credits might include boggy land, steep land, stoney land,  land with poor soil and any other area of underutilized Farmland.

The colour photograph showing English Farmland there is a hedge in the foreground which has been trimmed with the mechanical hedge trimmer behind the hedge is a field with known grass various hedge rows seen in the distance and small farm building with silver roof this is galvanized corrugated steel in the fields are sheep and cows and in the distance there are two Cyprus trees and the very far distance you can see a lime of electricity pylons of style built in the 1970s which include galvanized steel lattice work and Carry approximately four to six cables per pile on the sky is overcast with small patches of clear Sky and the center left of the picture there is also a small brick built agricultural building with a single opening visible

Kate Jewell / Farmland near Scalford

BNG Credit Case Study

We will now describe to you a case study involving biodiversity net gain credits: The project consisted of assessing farmland which produces low yields and is hard to manage, and evaluating the current biodiversity value and understanding the ideal habitat to convert the land into. The subsequent increase of biodiversity value that can be gained with the converted land can be equated into Habitat Credits/BNG Credits. These BNG Credits can then be sold for between £9,000 and £25,000 (Squires, 2023).

The ideal habitat to be introduced was Native Broadleaved Woodland, and with 1 hectare of land enhanced from farmland this roughly equates to 5 habitat credits or £45,000.

Added Benefits

The newly planted woodland, funded by a BNG Credit buyer, can also gain additional carbon credits (WCU’s – Woodland Carbon Units). WCU’s can be sold for a guaranteed price for up to 2055/56 and can be sold for any newly planted woodland, not just for BNG.

If you require assistance with BNG Credit evaluation or Carbon Credit Scoping, let us know.

Image: Kate Jewell / Farmland near Scalford

Is 3% to 5% Radon Dangerous?


It means that between 3% and 5% of the home in your area are above 200 Becquerels m-3 .The conclusion of this page is “if in doubt” test. Get a testing kit from UK Radon (Part of Government) and follow their instructions. Our professional advice is not to test for less than 3 months. It is quite likely to give and inaccurate result. Read on for more delicious boffin waffle:


You are reading this because Radon is dangerous. Radon is a radioactive gas, and  small percentages in the air that you are breathing can be disaster. But how small? And what does 3 to 5 % mean?

Every building contains radon but the levels are usually low. The chances of a higher level depend on the type of ground. UK Health Security Agency has published a map showing where high levels are more likely.

Above from UK Radon.It is boradley correct, but as well as the “type of ground” the type of building is very important.


The “action” level for Radon is 200 Becquerels m-3   At this point we don’t really need to understand what that means, just that is exists.

What Does 3% to 5% Mean?

It means that between 3% and 5% of the home in your area are above 200 Becquerels m-3  (the action level). The worst it could be is 30% over the level, and best is 1% or less.

So that is a bit confusing isn’t it. Is you home dangerous or not? Well really we would need to know a lot about you building before we could make a guess. Not only what radon was coming out of the ground (difficult to measure), but also how much of it leaks out (also difficult to measure).

Type of Building

Good – If the house is a modern building with a radon protection barrier, sump, and other features then chances are that you indoor air quality will be good (with regards to radon) and you will be below action level. But the bottom line is you do not know if you are safe unless you test. Perhaps the builders made some mistakes, perhaps they didn’t follow the plans, or the building inspector forgot to check. . . .

Bad – If the house is old, and maybe has a suspend timber floor, with no damp proof course, then radon can get in to the house from the ground. However, if the house also has old leaky windows and drafts coming under the door, then this may help keep radon levels lower, as they will have less chance build up. Things like positive input ventilation, or a wood burner, or a vented tumble drier can also affect air flow through the house, and affect radon levels. But the bottom line is you do not know if you are safe unless you test.

Ugly – An old house, with no damp proof course which as be subsequently upgraded to include double glazing, draft proofing and uses combustion appliances with balanced flues, will experience very little air flow, whilst allowing ground gases (including radon) in to the building. Very very much worth urgently doing some testing if you are in this situation.


The bottom line is you do not know if you are safe unless you test.

There are too many variables to predict accurately what the radon level in a house will be. All we know from the 3% to 5% bracket, is that “some” houses in your area have a problem.

Construction techniques, building age, choice of appliances, choice of heating systems, and user behaviour all play a role in radon levels. The bottom line is you do not know if you are safe unless you test.

When you do the test get you kits direct from UK radon:


They are the official government labs, and will not recommend test period of less than 90 days. Do not test for less than 90 days because of all the variables, as mentioned above, you need to measure for a long period to make sure results are representative.

Planning Consultants Bristol 


60 Day Rule for Camping & Flood Risk

60 Day Rule for Camping & Flood Risk

You have been Asked for a Flood Risk Assessment and Flood Warning Plan when you have decided to extend your 28 days camping rule, to 60 days you may be required to submit a Flood Risk Assessment and a Flood Warning Plan. We can write both of these for you.

In the last chapter on this page we offer a up a few tips if you would like to try and write you own flood risk assessment.

a picuture show camping and tents flooded in a field the water is muddy and you cannot see the gound the tops of the colourful tents are poking out of the surface of the flood water

Glastonbury 2005 – Creative Commons 2.0 – sebFlyte

The 60-day Rule

  • Introduced in July 2023, it allows landowners to use their land as a campsite for up to 60 days per calendar year for up to 50 pitches, without needing full planning permission.
  • It applies to tents, motorhomes, and campervans (but not touring caravans).
  • You must notify your local planning authority beforehand with details like dates, site plan, and waste disposal methods.

Flood Risk and the 60-day Rule

Sites in Flood Zone 2 or 3 Require Additional Consideration

Even outside Flood Zones 2 & 3, be Cautious

      • Check historical flood maps and local flood risk information.
      • Choose campsites on high ground, away from bodies of water, and avoid low-lying areas.
      • Stay updated on weather forecasts and be prepared to evacuate if necessary.


  • The 60-day rule simplifies permissions, but flood safety remains paramount.
  • Prioritize safety and choose campsites with minimal flood risk, regardless of the rule’s applicability.

A Little Help

We fully appreciate that some smaller campsite, may not make a huge amount of money, and as such we provide the below hints for writing your own Flood Risk Assessment which perfectly OK thing to do.

  • Why not use Google Gemini to Write the Bulk of the Text for You
  • Order a “Product 4” from the Environment Agency (You can do this via “Flood Map for Planning “)
  • Use the data they provide (you have to wait 20 days) to write you report.
  • Move camping areas to low risk areas.
  • Use flood risk areas for open areas or sports areas.
  • Describe what people will do if the campsite becomes flooded, and where they can shelter.
  • Read about “flash flooding” and what the dangers are, think about how you can warn people about it (sign up to flood warnings and sever weather warnings).

Lots of Help

We can do this for you if you like.

Shadow Habitat Regulation Assessment: Ashford, Kent


Do you need an SHRA (Shadow Habitat Regulation Assessment) for you planning application, in Ashford, Kent? If you do please contact us and we can quote for a cost effective and timely service.

Why Do I need and SHRA?

The nutrient neutrality issue in Ashford, Kent, revolves around protecting the water quality of the Stour catchment, which has been negatively impacted by excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. These nutrients primarily come from sources like agriculture and wastewater treatment plants.

By Alex Lockton – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Here’s a breakdown of the issue:

The Problem:

  • Excess nutrients in the Stour catchment harm sensitive habitats like the internationally important Stodmarsh nature reserve, so an Shadow Habitat Regulation Assessment is needed.
  • To address this, Natural England implemented regulations requiring “nutrient neutrality” for new developments. This means any development that adds nutrients through wastewater needs to find ways to offset that impact elsewhere.

The Impact:

  • This requirement has significantly impacted building projects in Ashford, as around 90% of planned development sites fall within the affected area.
  • Many planning applications have been put on hold, hindering housing development and causing economic concerns, unless a Shadow Habitat Regulation Assessment can be provided, and then not even then!

The Controversy:

  • Local authorities like Ashford Borough Council argue that the onus shouldn’t solely fall on them to address a wider issue beyond their control.
  • They emphasize that water companies and the Environment Agency, responsible for water quality, should share the responsibility.
  • The government initially proposed changes to lessen the burden on local authorities, but these were met with opposition and not enacted.

Current Status:

  • As of October 2023, the government is working on a new bill to address the nutrient neutrality issue, aiming to shift responsibility to relevant bodies. But this was voted out, owing to being so poorly written. And as such for the time being the issue remains.
  • Ashford Borough Council continues to seek solutions for development while the new bill takes shape.

Further Resources:

The Windshield Phenomenon

A New Phrase I Wish I Didn’t Know!

I suddenly realised the other day that my children (some of whom are teenagers) have never seen a car windshield (or windscreen :-/ if you are in the UK) covered in squashed bugs. “Good” you might say what a horrible thing to show a child. But really it is very worrying that they don’t know that this used to be normal in the UK during the summer, and its absence is not a great sign with regard to the UK’s levels of biodiversity.

Shifting Baselines

Example: Imagine a child growing up in a city with smog-filled skies. They may not realize the air quality is unhealthy because it’s their “normal.” This is the essence of shifting baseline syndrome: each generation accepts the current state of the environment as the baseline, even if it’s degraded compared to the past.

Windscreens of the Past

The Windshield phenomenon, also known as the Windscreen phenomenon, refers to the observation that fewer dead insects seem to accumulate on the windshields and front bumpers of cars compared to past decades. It’s become a common anecdotal observation among drivers, particularly those who have been driving for many years.

While the phenomenon itself is quite noticeable, the reasons behind it are complex and multifaceted. Here are some of the leading explanations:

1. Decline in insect populations:

  • This is arguably the most concerning explanation. Studies across the globe have documented a significant decline in insect populations, with some estimates suggesting a drop of up to 75% in some regions since the 1990s.
  • This decline is attributed to several factors, including habitat loss and fragmentation due to deforestation and urbanization, excessive pesticide useclimate change, and light pollution.

2. Changes in driving habits and car designs:

  • Modern cars tend to be more aerodynamic and have smoother front ends, which might make it less likely for insects to hit the windshield directly.
  • Additionally, increased highway speeds and changes in driving routes may also play a role, as insects are less likely to encounter cars at certain speeds or on specific roads.

3. Observer bias:

  • It’s possible that the Windshield phenomenon is partly due to our own perception. As people become aware of the decline in insect populations, they might be more likely to notice the absence of insects on their windshields, even if the actual number hasn’t changed significantly. However, I would have thought a long drive in the summer would yield a few casualties, so driving from Devon to Scotland without killing a single bug. . .  that is a bit of a coincidence.

The implications of the Windshield phenomenon are worrisome:

  • Insects play crucial roles in ecosystems as pollinators, decomposers, and prey for other animals. A significant decline in their populations could have cascading effects on entire ecosystems, impacting food webs and potentially even affecting human food security.

Therefore, it’s important to take the Windshield phenomenon seriously and investigate the causes behind it further.

More research is needed to understand the full extent of the decline in insect populations and to develop effective conservation strategies.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind:

  • The Windshield phenomenon is not a definitive indicator of insect decline on its own. More comprehensive studies are needed to confirm the trends and their underlying causes.
  • While the phenomenon might be partly due to observer bias, it’s still a valuable observation that raises awareness about the potential threat to insect populations.
  • Conservation efforts focused on protecting insect habitats, reducing pesticide use, and mitigating climate change are crucial to addressing the broader issue of insect decline.

Remember, even small changes in our individual habits, like choosing organic produce and opting for sustainable gardening practices, can contribute to a healthier planet for insects and ourselves.