Biodiversity Accounting has been widely adopted by agencies and planning authorities as a means of mitigating the effects of development on biodiversity, but it has been criticised owing to the ease with which it can be misused. Dominic Woodfield explains some of the problems with biodiversity accounting and argues that it cannot be relied upon when assessing planning proposals.
Once upon a time, Defra had an idea. Developers could ‘offset’ damage to wildlife through a system of accounting for impacts and then turning these into credits that could be traded or purchased to deliver an equivalent measure of biodiversity elsewhere (Defra 2012). They called it ‘biodiversity offsetting’.