Category Archives: Agriculture

Nutrient Credit & BNG Credits – Lessons Learned

Nutrient Credit & BNG Credits – Lessons Learned

This is a dictated blog post so please excuse the poor punctuation although I expect the speech to text algorithm I’m using probably does a better job at a spelling than I do so at least that’s something! I also tried to write this as informally as possible and also put some very slight humour in it. . . .¬† this isn’t a reflection of my lack of sincerity with regards this topic but apparently if I am to keep ahead of AI then I need to inject humor and humans sensibility into my written content . . .¬† so there we go Brave New World. . . .

We’ve finally come to a point with nutrient neutrality where we have a complete system for measuring the inputs & outputs (which has been the case for a few years), and we also now (as of just a few weeks ago) have a complete legal system (in some areas at least) for the delivery of nutrient credits from off-site sources.

This took around two years to arrange and I’m a bit apprehensive about the same thing happening with biodiversity net gain will planning authorities and natural England learn from the lessons of the past four years and the laborious drag that has been nutrient neutrality all will they reinvent the wheel and keep his waiting another four years for biodiversity credits.

Baselines and Loads

In nutrient neutrality we talk about baselines and loads as in the before and after nutrient balance of a particular site and this is the same to some extent for biodiversity because we have a baseline and we also have post-development figure which has to be higher than the pre-development figure.

This is all very well set out in natural England’s biodiversity net gain matrices and we have accrued considerable in-house experience in filling these tables out as well as conducting various baseline surveys that are involved such as hepatak condition surveys so this sound so this part of biodiversity net gain sounds quite promising and certainly progressing as well or perhaps better than nutrient neutrality calculations of the same type.

It’s worth noting as well that since they’re release the BNG calculator have not been updated time and time again like many of the phosphorus calculators around the country Somerset Council and Cornwall Council have both been very bad and doing this with several updates since the initial calculator released.

Mitigation Projects

So this all sounds pretty good so far we’ve got to where working things out for BNG, and with nutrient neutrality we have some legal precedence which might apply to biodiversity net gain.

But this is where the good luck starts to be slightly eroded by some rather poorly planned schemes around land use.

So biodiversity net gain can be a profitable land use although it does lock the land up for around 80 years each credit is worth around 25,000 push and one hectare planted to mix broadly woodland can create five appetite habitat credits which is about 125,000 pounds so that sounds quite good.

The problem is that biodiversity netgame credits are not the only thing that farmers can do with underproductive land in fact there’s a very recent scheme under the sustainable farming initiative which sees underprotective areas of land set aside for around five years being very attractive option at present and in the number of cases where we visited farms and advised farmers on what they can expect to gain from implementation of net gain projects on the land we have found that they cite sustainable farming initiative as a reason not for doing it because it will pay better in the short term, and they don’t have to lock up their land for a huge period which may affect their children or possibly even grandchildren.

So there is a clash there between two conflicting schemes that surely won’t help it least in the short term.

Legal Smeagols

So lastly but definitely not leastly (you see AI would not do quirky spelling like that) we have the legal stuff, and I have to admit that we haven’t really dealt with very much of this with regards to biodiversity net gain or the creation of biodiversity credit schemes but one could suppose that it will encounter the same barriers as the legal elements of off-site credit schemes that have been faced by nutrient credit schemes.

In these cases we have seen a variety of legal implements being used one example of which might be an overarching section 106 agreement which can be used by a credit scheme provider to prove to the Council that they will take responsibility for the scheme in the long run the people accepting the credit also have to fill out various pieces of paperwork which may involve contracts or supply which are between the credit user and the credit seller or perhaps the unilateral undertaking that can also be used in some instances some after worse examples that we have heard of come from caulmore Cornwall where local councils have flared to the idea of putting notes on landowners title deeds which has gone down very badly.

You should definitely contact us if you want to run a credit scheme for biodiversity net gain. It will be complicated and for your own sanity, you should pay us to do it for you.

Phosphates Mitigation Reports

2021 was quite a busy year for Southwest Environmental Limited, we had a fairly typical work load from our long term client base, however we have seen a lot of new work from new clients relating to phosphate assessments, and nutrient neutrality.

We have undertaken reports mainly in the Southwest, however we have also undertaken some reporting for sites in the south east, in the vicinity of Stodmarsh.

Despite having a few reports passed off, and dealing with 100’s of emails with regards to extra details, from planners, natural england, and ecologists the majority of applications mired by the Phosphate Issue remain in limbo.

It would appear there is no one cable or willing to make a decision to pass off the reports.

Some of the older reports date back to November 2020, and as you might expect that is a long time to wait for news on a planning application.

A Phosphate Ion – Creative Commons License (NEUROtiker)

Our reports are now however quite thorough in terms of their content. We have iron out early wrinkles experience in early days of 2021, and had many discussions with consultees and planners, adjust and refining our reporting process each time to meet content requirements.

We have advised on on-site schemes, such as reed beds, or on-site woodland (sometimes a combination of both), and we have a method for reduce reed bed sizes using a special filtration method.

Some sites are not able to implement on-site schemes owing to perhaps lack of space or proximity to mains sewer. In these instances we have specified off-site mitigation schemes such as woodland. Off-site reed bed schemes are a very complicated proposition.

If you would like to discuss your project and any associated phosphate, nitrate or nutrient issues associated with it. Then please do contact us.

Read more about Phosphate Assessments on our website.

Farm Environmental Audit – Dorset

Southwest Environmental Limited were commissioned by a national charity to make an Farm Environmental Audit or Review of there operations as a site in Dorset.

SWEL do undertake Agricultural work, this aspect suited or remit well in that the main focus of Environmental Audit was Surface Water Management and Waste Management both are topics we have considerable experience in.

A review was made of the premises, and a 21 page report was issued within 3 days of the visit, detailing findings and recommendations. We focused on low cost solutions to the problem in hand avoiding large capital expenditure requirements focusing on improvements to operating techniques and site management.