BNG Landowner Eligibility Criteria 

June 27, 2024

As a landowner you need to be comfortable in commiting to a BNG scheme being secured on your land. There will be legal requires that you must comply with and continue to comply with for at least 30 years. We outline what you need to know.

Eligibility criteria 

At a very basic level, the land must either be owned or you need to have an agreement from the landowner and any third parties such as banks who may hold charges over the land. If a leaseholder is applying, applicants must show a sufficient lease to ensure that the full 30 years, plus and preparation time is covered. 

There are also limitations on the types of schemes that BNG can be stacked with.  For example, land cannot be in both an Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme and a BNG scheme.  However, you can remove your land from ELMs prior and place it into a BNG scheme.

What sorts of land are suitable? 

In principle, any land could be suitable, although there can be significant commercial implications if the wrong sort of habitat is developed on the wrong sort of land (see section below).

Typically habitat in a worse ecological condition, through intensive farming can show more BNG units once improved.  Where land already shows strong biodiversity, it is possible to improve these areas, however, the costs for unit creation may also increase.  

Alongside ensuring that the chosen outcome fits with the local area and is deliverable, you will also need to consider how much work it will take to get land to the required standard.  Committing to a High Distinctiveness, Good Condition habitat may sound good on paper as the BNG Units should be worth more, however, it may be unpractical to get the land to this condition. Well-considered ecological planning is key to ensuring your commitments are deliverable.   

Legal requirements and responsibilities 

Do I need to own the land?  

You do not need to own the land, if you are a leaseholder however, you will need both the landowner’s permission and to ensure you have an agreement that ensures you will be able to maintain the scheme for 30 years. You may also have practical and commercial considerations such as if you are required to return the land to its original condition the costs for this and the impact on the newly created habitat may be very significant.  

Most scheme landowners considering BNG schemes own the land, which simplifies the process significantly.  As a practical consideration, even those landowners who own the land, but have a commercial loan and charge on the land are struggling to get banks to agree to vary their agreement to allow the scheme as it adds to the complexity and BNG is relatively new. 


Landowners are required to commit to maintaining the habitat for 30 years from creation. It may also take a few years to prepare the area for the new habitat to be created. This period would be in addition to the 30-year commitment.  

To ensure the habitat is managed and maintained to a suitable standard, you must also develop a legally binding Habitat Management and Monitoring Plan (HMMP). This must be funded for the full 30-year period and have a contingency to ensure that if the habitat does not reach the required standard, you have sufficient funds to put it right.  

Upon completion of the 30-year commitment, you will have created a thriving, new habitat. Most landowners do not intend to return the land to agriculture after the committed period is over. You have the option to enhance the land further and recommit to a BNG scheme to enable you to sell credits again. 

Monitoring and Reporting

Ongoing monitoring and reporting are essential to verify that the projected biodiversity gains are achieved. This includes:

  • Regular Site Assessments: Conducted at defined intervals to track habitat condition and ecological performance.
  • Adaptive Management: Adjusting management practices based on monitoring results to address any issues or improve outcomes.
  • Transparent Reporting: Documenting and sharing progress and results to ensure accountability and build trust among stakeholders.

Legally securing a BNG scheme 

You can secure a scheme via one of two legal mechanisms; a Conservation Covenant or a Section 106 Agreement. Depending on how you choose to develop and market your scheme you can use these agreements in different ways.  

Conservation Covenant 

Conservation Covenants are very new and require a designated ‘Responsible Body’ to be a signatory of an agreement that you will manage and monitor the land.  

As these agreements are new, we are seeing high costs to participate and likely lack of flexibility in contracts. As more responsible bodies are created, we should see a greater competiveness in costs and landowner commitments. 

Section 106 Agreement 

BNG Schemes can also be secured using a Section 106 Agreement with the LPA. This route is more familiar to many landowners, and the costs tend to be lower than via a Conservation Covenant. When selling a BNG unit, the Landowner will allow the developer buying the unit to reference the overarching Section 106 Agreement specific to the BNG scheme within the Developer's Section 106 Agreement specific to their housing development.   

A second option is for land to be referenced only within the Developers Section 106 Agreement. The landowner would simultaneously sign a contract with the developer detailing responsibilities for maintenance and monitoring. There are implications for the developer and landowner in terms of liability for ensuring the scheme is maintained, so we would expect to see a lower price per unit/yield per hectare for the landowner. See the below section on habitat banking. 


Kim Connor Streich

Explore our schemes

BNG Habitat Banks

Get in touch

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.