As we long predicted – Green Paper published today
For irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland, the conditions of paragraph 118 of the National Planning Policy Framework would need to be taken into account.
For Sites of Special Scientific Interest the conditions of paragraph 118 of the National Planning Policy Framework would have to be met. The Government considers this could only be the case, depending on the circumstances, if the offset provided the same type of habitat as close as possible to the Site of Special Scientific Interest that would be harmed.
For European sites the tests under Article 6(4) of the Habitats Directive would have to be passed. This would only happen if the offset maintained the integrity of the Natura 2000 network (this might require providing the same type of habitat as close as possible to the Natura 2000 site that would be harmed).
How would it work – Grampian conditions
If planning permission is then granted, it would be subject to the developer securing an offset which provided the same number of biodiversity units as would be lost (the system would need to ensure offsets are capable of being a material consideration for a planning decision). As the offset could be provided by a third party this could avoid the need to include detailed requirements to put in place and manage compensatory measures in section 106 or similar agreements.