ICE Releases Discussion Paper on Biodiversity Offsetting (UK)

ICE Releases Discussion Paper on Biodiversity Offsetting

ICE’s Maritime Expert Panel released a discussion paper entitled The Role of Coastal Engineers in the Delivery of No Net Loss through Biodiversity Offsetting.

A working group of the Maritime Expert Panel, led by Jan Brooke, delivered the paper which explores the concept of biodiversity offsetting, the opportunities for its application in coastal areas of the UK and the role to be played by coastal engineers.

The continuing loss of biodiversity as a result of human use and development remains a major concern, both globally and in the UK. The 2011 Natural Environment White Paper recognises that development is needed to provide jobs and essential services. However, it also acknowledges the economic and social benefits of a healthy natural environment. It therefore sets an overall objective of ensuring no net loss of biodiversity, including no net loss of primary habitat, by 2020.

The White Paper makes various proposals to facilitate a strategic approach to planning for nature within and across local areas. Biodiversity offsetting is promoted as one way of delivering gains, enabling developers to take positive steps to compensate for biodiversity losses in a measurable way. Biodiversity offsetting is not, however, a ‘licence to trash’. It is designed to complement existing habitat designations and a new voluntary approach is being tested in a number of pilot areas.

This discussion paper explores the wider context within which an offsetting policy might be applied in coastal and estuarine areas, and promotes a different way of thinking. There are potentially many opportunities for biodiversity offsetting at the coast, but there are also a number of challenges including those associated with the nature of the physical environment.

Coastal engineers are likely to have a pivotal role in ensuring the effective delivery of this important policy: they must therefore understand both what it means and what is needed.


Press Release, May 24, 2013