European Commission mulls biodiversity offsetting for development
23 June 2014Environmental Alert
European Commission has launched consultation on the 'no net loss' objective for biodiversity which is part of its EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. In particular, the consultation seeks views on biodiversity offsetting, a system by which adverse impacts on biodiversity resulting from development are permissible provided that the developer replaces or compensates for the lost biodiversity at the same site or elsewhere. Offsetting is contentious with some environmental groups arguing that it gives developers a licence to build anywhere, and conflicting opinions on the net impact of existing projects where offsets have been used.
Whilst the consultation does not propose any specific measures, it does raise the prospect of the Commission adopting a formal 'mitigation hierarchy' for development whereby priority will be given to avoiding or preventing adverse impacts; where impacts cannot be avoided, to minimising and rehabilitating their effects; and finally to offsetting any residual impacts. Much of the detail of the consultation is based on the recommendations of a policy options report to the Commission by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) last year which concluded that "mandatory requirements for the offsetting of residual impacts would be needed to make a significant contribution to no net loss."
Read the full alert: 'European Commission mulls biodiversity offsetting for development'