We have to consider the conservation of biodiversity when deciding a planning application. This includes the protection of protected species, designated sites, habitats and geological features.
A biodiversity assessment (sometimes known as an ecological assessment or nature conservation assessment) will be required for all major applications or greenfield development (usually agricultural or amenity land) that could directly or indirectly impact on rare, protected, or notable species or habitats protected by:
- the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
- the Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations 2010
- the Conservation of Habitats and Species (Amendment Regulations 2012)
- the Protection of Badgers Act 1992
A biodiversity survey may include either a protected species survey and/or an ecological or geological survey.
A protected species survey and assessment should be submitted where the development involves:
- demolition of a building
- conversion of a building (for example, barn conversion)
- works to bridges, viaducts, tunnels, mines, kilns, ice houses, adits, military fortifications, cellars and underground ducts and structures
- works near watercourses, wetlands and ponds
- buildings known to support roosting bats
- development affecting the roof space of a building
An ecological survey should be submitted where the development involves:
- works to trees or hedgerows
- overgrown sites
- development within or adjacent to a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Area, Ramsar Sites, Special Areas of Nature Conservation, Sites of Biological or Geographical Importance
- sites involving Ancient Woodland
These sites are all included on the interactive map of the South Lakeland Local Plan.
Some smaller applications (including some householder proposals)that fall into the above designated sites, green gaps. or include proposals that will impact upon overgrown land, may also require an ecological assessment.
Proposals that involve the removal of trees, scrub, hedgerows or alter water courses will need to supply information on species present, potential impacts on those species and the mitigation for such impacts.
Surveys and reporting will need to be undertaken by appropriately qualified, experienced and licensed ecologists who are members of an appropriate institution such as the Chartered Institute of Ecological and Environmental Managers.
Reports and surveys should be carried-out in accordance with nationally recognised guidance.
We will not validate an application unless we are confident that full information on the likely ecological impacts of the proposals can be provided within the application timeframe. This allows for flexibility in cases where further ecological surveys are required to determine the presence or absence of a species but due to the seasonality of ecological surveys, the consideration of the application would be unduly delayed.