Managing the impact of local development
Biodiversity offsetting is a way of compensating for the unavoidable impacts of development on habitats for plants and wildlife. It’s only used as a last resort in the planning process, for sites where compensation is considered a viable solution.
TOE can administer biodiversity offsetting funds for development sites in Oxfordshire.
We use our local knowledge, networks and expert guidance to find suitable receptor sites and projects.
We advertise funds for long-term habitat creation and improvement projects in specific locations.
Biodiversity offsets are conservation activities that are designed to give biodiversity benefits to compensate for losses - ensuring that when a development damages nature (and this damage cannot be avoided or mitigated) new nature sites will be created. Where appropriate, biodiversity offsetting is an option available to developers to fulfil their obligations under the planning system’s mitigation hierarchy.
An effective Local service
We believe TOE offers an unrivalled service as a biodiversity offsetting provider for Oxfordshire. We're the county's leading independent environmental funder, which means our local knowledge, networks and ability to administer funds make us perfectly suited to the task.
But we haven't taken this task on lightly. Offsetting is a difficult option for developers, planners and providers to implement. It involves hard decisions and complex calculations about what's acceptable, necessary and achievable.
Planners are clear that offsets can't be used to enable development to impact special sites, but TOE would still prefer no losses to occur to any biodiversity. However, we also know that development is going to happen, and any lost habitats must be compensated for.
By offering our services as a biodiversity offsetting provider, TOE can help ensure that any offsets in Oxfordshire are used appropriately and strategically to secure the best possible outcomes.
We've developed TOE's offsetting service by working in partnership with South Oxfordshire District Council, which has expertise gained from government-led biodiversity offsetting pilots. We also follow Defra guidance for offsetting providers.
An important step was signing a Memorandum of Understanding between TOE, South Oxfordshire District Council, and Vale of White Horse District Council.
This sets out our shared vision and procedures for offsetting, giving everyone involved, including developers and grant applicants, greater clarity and confidence in the way we use funds to deliver and monitor long-term outcomes.
We hope to make similar arrangements with other planning authorities in due course.
Biodiversity offsetting is an option available to local planning authorities throughout in the UK. Decisions to use offsets are made between the developers and planners, usually in the form of Section 106 agreements and Planning Conditions. Offsetting providers like TOE have no role at this stage.
Whichever arrangement is made as part of the planning process, it stipulates the amount of compensation required for a site. This is calculated using a standard Defra metric and expressed as a measure of biodiversity units. Each unit is assigned a cost, and this is what gets passed onto biodiversity offsetting providers to fund habitat creation and improvement projects.