Network Rail Offsetting Strategy


Our strategy engenders a collaborative approach with other organisations that are part of the UK’s ‘One Public Estate’, to deliver bigger, better, more joined-up and resilient ecological networks for the future.

Project background:

Network Rail owns, operates and develops Britain’s railway infrastructure, managing 32,000 km of track and adjacent habitats, as well as many bridges, tunnels and stations. Network Rail is one of Britain’s largest landowners, and is committed to enhancing biodiversity across its estate, balancing its commitment to safety and performance with a responsibility for lineside wildlife and habitats.

Scope of services:

RSK Wilding produced a biodiversity offsetting strategy for Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd (NRIL) to explore how the biodiversity impacts associated with their operational activities and major projects can be addressed strategically.

RSK Wilding outlined how NRIL can efficiently:

  • Identify and quantify the baseline biodiversity conditions within their 52,000 ha estate.
  • Measure impacts to biodiversity that result from their broad range of activities.
  • Identify the likely biodiversity offsetting requirements to deliver firstly no net loss to biodiversity and subsequently an overall biodiversity net gain.
  • Work with third parties and stakeholders to identify wider opportunities for biodiversity offsetting.

Various opportunities for delivering biodiversity offsets were explored, including:

  • Habitat enhancement and creation within the footprint of proposed schemes/developments.
  • Offsetting within Network Rail land near to where impacts on biodiversity are occurring or will occur.
  • Purchasing biodiversity credits from other third party offset providers.
  • Acquiring third party land for the purpose of biodiversity offsetting.

Our strategy demonstrated how such opportunities for biodiversity creation and enhancement could
not only offset the company’s biodiversity impacts but also have the potential to have other natural capital benefits (e.g. carbon offsetting, flood risk mitigation, community access, etc.) and also generate new income streams for Network Rail.