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  • by Karma Loveday

Government advisor calls on infrastructure to "aim for green gain"

Infrastructure developments should aim to leave the environment in a measurably better condition than before, according to a discussion paper published by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).


The expert provider of advice to government on long-term infrastructure challenges said adopting this "environmental net gain" approach would help ensure losses of high value natural capital are minimised and mitigated, while also providing positive opportunities to enhance natural capital.


It noted the current Environmental Bill includes provisions for biodiversity net gain but that major infrastructure is exempt; however the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan does include an ambition for environmental net gain requirements on all future major development, including infrastructure.


The NIC stressed infrastructure can play a key role in making a positive contribution to the environment, for example through the provision of natural habitats or connecting corridors for wildlife or encouraging greater use of natural water catchment management to mitigate the impact of flooding.


The Commission also said environmental net gain will be at the heart of a new set of natural capital principles it intends to develop to help guide future infrastructure developments; and that the importance of natural capital will be an integral part of its next National Infrastructure Assessment in 2023.

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