French biodiversity policy has been evolving and strengthening since 1976, when the “Law on Nature Protection”, provided the first mention of the mitigation hierarchy and stipulated that all developments required an EIA.
More recent guidance on the mitigation hierarchy published by the Ministry of Sustainable Development in 2013 stated that if residual impacts remain after avoidance and minimization steps, compensation is mandatory in the case of damage resulting in “major environmental issues”.
Earlier this year a new law on biodiversity (Projet de loi pour la reconquête de la biodiversité, de la nature et des paysages) entered the legislative pipeline in France and was approved by the National Assembly, including the adoption of an important article on biodiversity offsets and an article introducing a Not Net Loss / Net Gain principle.
As approved by the National Assembly, the law:
- allows for 3rd party provider of offsets (habitat banking); who will however need to get the prior approval of the French authorities to be able to operate;
- allows for conservation easements, a traditional tool for conserving private land (also known as a conservation restriction or covenant) which is a legal agreement between a landowner and any public or private body acting for environmental protection that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values, and;
- reorganizes agencies with biodiversity responsibility into a single agency (Agence française pour la biodiversité).
However the law is not fully adopted yet as the Senate still has to pass it, likely to be followed by negotiations between the Senate and National Assembly which may take several more months. It is clear from these developments that the mitigation hierarchy, including offsets, has been identified as an important part of France’s biodiversity policy.
This information was retrieved from the latest (May 2015) BBOP Newsletter.
See also my related posts:
- Doctrine ERC (Eviter-Reduire-Compenser) — Application of the Mitigation Hierarchy in France
- French Assemblée Nationale has decided upon a resolution on the (planned) EU No Net Loss Initiative
- THINKING OUT THE APPROPRIATE FRAMEWORKS: BIODIVERSITY OFFSETS AND SAFEGUARDS — new article in BIODIV’2050