London River Bank

Expression of Interest for watercourse biodiversity units in London


The Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) policy, outlined in the Environment Act 2021, will become mandatory in early 2024. This policy mandates that most planning permissions, excluding small sites, must achieve a minimum 10% biodiversity net gain. Small sites will follow suit in April 2024 and Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects in 2025.

Watercourse BNG units

Biodiversity Net Gain classifies rivers and streams as high distinctiveness habitats, any losses must be replaced with biodiversity units of the same habitat type. It may not be possible to obtain 10% net gain on site, in which case off-site units or statutory credits must be purchased. The current cost to purchase a statutory watercourse credit from the government is £230k, and due to the spatial risk multiplier you’ll need two credits for every unit required i.e. buying a unit through statutary credits will cost £460k.

What is London River Bank?

London River Bank, convened by Thames21, is creating a one stop shop for watercourse BNG unit across London. Our social enterprise delivery model ensures all profits are re- invested in positive environmental projects to benefit local communities. This first of its kind approach is working collaboratively with landowners and local authorities to develop, deliver and sell the units ready for this developing market. Through working closely with the landowners, local community and with Thames21 expertise we can deliver significant river BNG uplift which is highly valued by all and safeguarded for 30 plus years.


London’s rivers are highly damaged through historical engineering and development, however numerous opportunities to restore rivers in London exist and these can deliver significant BNG river unit uplift.

These projects also offer significant benefits through improving access, amenity and well being benefits, as well as increase the resilience to the impacts of climate change. By working with local community and partners, London River Bank will use BNG to deliver integrated solutions that create happier, healthier rivers, valued by all.

How it will work?

Description of how the process will work

Case Study

Read full case study here.

What is on offer?

Units available

Thames21 has an initial pipeline of 30 watercourse biodiversity units through a programme of river restoration projects in the Ravensbourne and Lea and Brent Catchments. Subject to demand we have the opportunity to scale up across multiple catchments.


From extensive delivery experience and detailed analysis, the costs per watercourse biodiversity units are likely to range from less than £250k, including legal agreements and 30 years of management, monitoring and maintenance.

Other benefits

The river restoration projects will all deliver wider environmental and community benefits which would align to corporate ESG targets.


London River Bank have a number of watercourse BNG units available to buy in 2024 and a pipeline of projects ready to be delivered in the next three years.

Expression of Interest

Process and next steps

BNG is an emerging market, London River Bank aims to ensure that BNG is used in a way that supports the delivery of joined up local plans. Whilst we have aimed to set out a clear structure for our thinking to date, we anticipate we will be able to refine our approach through dialogue through understanding the market interest.

Step 1: Interested parties to consider the questions set out below and respond to by the 15th January. If you’d prefer to talk to someone, then email us your details and we’ll call you back.

Step 2 : The London River Bank team will review submission and arrange conversations with interested parties on a first come first serve basis.

Expression of Interest – Questions

  • Q1.  What is your expected demand for watercourse biodiversity units?
  • Q2.  Where is your demand (locations or water bodies)?
  • Q3.  When would you require watercourse biodiversity units by?
  • Q4.  Are you interested in buying units from a social enterprise like London River Bank?
  • Q5.  Do you have any comments on the price of units set out in the EOI?
  • Q6.  Would you buy upfront watercourse biodiversity units before they had been delivered, on the basis of securing a pipeline of BNG units for future demand?
  • Q7.  Would you pay more for London River Bank units which offer additional social and environmental benefits i.e. “biodiversity with purpose”?
  • Q8.  Would you be interested in entering into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with London River Bank to have access to watercourse biodiversity unit opportunities?