It’s time to put wildlife at the heart of planning

(c) R Callway

Helen Hayes MP described the alarming trends in loss of wildlife species in the last forty years, with one in ten UK species at risk of extinction. The decline is thought to be due to a combination of factors, including climate change, intensive farming and urbanisation.

Helen Hayes (MP, right) and Sir Oliver Letwin (left)

A special House of Commons exhibit was held (3 July) about the biodiversity challenge, bringing together a menagerie of conservation groups, planners, house builders and MPs. They are calling for a greater emphasis on biodiversity in UK planning and development.

Helen Hayes MP and Sir Oliver Letwin welcomed the work of the Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning in seeking to raise awareness in smaller developers about the protected and priority species, habitats and special designated sites, that need to be considered when embarking on a development project. The Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning is an alliance of 19 organisations who are seeking to encourage greater inclusion of Biodiversity in the planning system.

One of the partners, Kit Stoner, CEO of the Bat Conservation Trust, described a free on-line tool, the Wildlife Assessment Check. The tool is for smaller developers who may be less aware that they need to consider wildlife in their designs, when preparing planning applications as well as for so-called ‘permitted developments’ that don’t require permission. The tool also seeks to support those local planning authorities to help raise awareness in the public of their statutory duty to consider biodiversity when reviewing applications.

Several local authorities have already put links to the Wildlife Assessment Check on their own planning portals and it is hoped more will do so to encourage better appraisal and inclusion of wildlife in development in the future.

Tigermoth (c) R Callway


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