See also the reponse to our FoI - https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/request_for_biodiversity_net_gai?nocache=incoming-2034040#incoming-2034040
We have written to the Mayor and Councillor Dudd:
"Dear Mayor Rees and Councillor Dudd,
Please see the formal response to our FoI request for a copy of the Biodiversity Net Gain evidence which was not produced in support of this application though it should have been. Here is our response:
"Dear Bristol City Council,
You state ' The biodiversity Metric Calculation (D492) was provided by the applicant
as part of the submission to their planning application'.
This is simply not the case as our original response makes clear. The applicant provided a document called a 'Biodiversity Net Gain Assessment' (Assessment) This is not the same as the biodiversity Metric Calculation which the applicant made clear at page 4 of the Assessment:
"Purpose and scope of report
1.8 This report utilises Natural England’s Biodiversity Metric 2.0 Calculation Tool to
calculate the differential in biodiversity value before and after development."
This document contains information which is not available in the Assessment.
Having referred to this calculation, it is not unreasonable to expect a copy of the calculation to be published on the planning portal as well as the Assessment. This has not happened.
As it it is neither appropriate nor possible for us to ask the applicant directly for this document, we are left with no choice but to ask through the Bristol City Council LPA who can require the applicant to produce it as part of their evidence. Furthermore it is surprising that the Council has not asked for a copy as officers are expected to review it as pat of Natural England's biodiversity net gain verification process.
Please ask the applicant to provide this document and publish it on the planning portal (or send it to us) so that we can access it."
It is hard to believe that such an obstructive response would have been considered appropriate. I wonder if you agree, especially given the city's commitment to deal with the declared ecological emergency?
I have written to the applicant's agent requesting the evidence, but they are under no obligation to respond. Only the LPA has the power to oblige them to produce this evidence which they have clearly prepared.
I urge you to use your influence to ensure that your officers provide the information requested without us having, once again, to ask the ICO to intervene. After all, what is there to hide?"
See site plan - https://bristoltrees.space/Tree/sitecode/BTF-063
Email sent 14 March 2022
We are very surprised to see that you have allowed this application even though it will result in a loss of 19% biodiversity to be dealt with as a pre-development condition - which will not then be subject to any public scrutiny. This is the pre-condition:
We appreciate that these provisions of the Environment Act have not yet taken effect, but we would like to remind you that, as we have been advised, the planning authority does not give permission to planning applications that show any biodiversity loss, let alone 19%. We also remind you that the Council has declared climate and ecological emergencies. At the very least, this decision goes against the spirit of this.
When the Environment Act 2021 does take effect (we understand this will probably be next year - so before this development is complete), it will be subject to Part 6
and Schedule 14
of the Act. This amends Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to create a new section 90A:
We are therefore very surprised to read this in the officer's report:
Can you please explain how it is that permission was granted given all of the above.
Furthermore, what steps will be taken to ensure that Section7 of the Act
- Conservation Covenants - will be enforced? You will note that covenants need to be in place before
permission is granted.
Notwithstanding the above, we still require to see the Biodiversity Metric calculation (in an .xlsm format) upon which the Biodiversity Net Gain Assessment of April 2021 is based. If you require it, we will issue an FoI for this information.
Dear Nicola and Richard - in light of this decision, please advise us what steps are being taken to ensure that decisions such as this will not be made in other planning matters likely to be decided before the above provisions of the Environment Act 2021 take effect. It was just this sort of issue that we planned to discuss with you before the meeting about the Act which was planned for last week was abandoned by you at the last moment.