Biodiversity Offsetting at Bushey Bank

Biodiversity offsetting is a system used by developers to offset the biodiversity impacts of development by investing funds in creating or improving a similar habitat nearby.

In 2013, Taylor Wimpey was looking to offset the impacts of a new development in Southmoor. Earth Trust signed the UK’s first formal biodiversity offsetting agreement with Taylor Wimpey in 2013, demonstrating how new partnerships can enable growth in business and improve the natural environment. 

What we are doing

Bushey Bank was a degraded area of lowland calcareous grassland when Earth Trust acquired the 2ha site. The encroaching scrub and a lack of stock proof fencing meant it was almost impossible to manage with grazing. In 2013, The Environment Bank brokered the UK’s first formal biodiversity offsetting agreement between Taylor Wimpey and Earth Trust. The funds were used to install fencing enabling ongoing management of the site with low intensity grazing by cattle and sheep.

The site is regularly surveyed so we can see how much it is improving. After just two years of management, it was already showing gains for wildlife, including the presence of a number of nationally scarce invertebrates.

As more offsetting schemes come to deliver real benefits for people and for nature, we hope many more planners and developers will appreciate the opportunities for doing the right thing for wildlife

Tom Tew, The Environment Bank (2015)

The vegetation report in 2017 indicated that the site is very much moving in the right direction with the majority of desirable species increasing in abundance and the undesirable species either stable or decreasing in abundance. A strong population of wild liquorice has been recorded, a locally rare and declining plant, along with healthy numbers of the liquorice piercer micro-moth Grapholita pallifrontana, a UK Biodiversity Action Plan species.

In August 2020, following an Environment Bank monitoring visit, it was identified that the grassland had successfully met the target habitat type.

Our impact

Earth Trust is a pioneering organisation and this project explored how new partnerships can enable growth in business and improve the natural environment. 

In 2022, the site received the CIEEM Award for ‘Best Practice – Small Scale Mitigation’.

The annual management and monitoring will continue until the scheme ends in October 2028 so there is still much to learn about the biodiversity net gains being generated.