Click on the following list for links to publications with information and guidance about the importance of including Biodiversity in planning.
- Why do we need to think about biodiversity in planning and building projects?
- How do we promote biodiversity gain in building projects?
- Guidance on ecological appraisal
- Key biodiversity legislation and policy
- Key planning policies relating to biodiversity
|Why do we need to think about biodiversity in planning and building projects?
|Biodiversity in Planning: Obligations and Opportunities (RTPI and Partnership for Biodiversity In Planning, 2019)
The practice advice note provides an overview of the main obligations and opportunities for planners to promote biodiversity through the four UK planning systems. It outlines the main challenges and opportunities relating to biodiversity, summarises current national statutory duties and offers practical pointers to support the integration of biodiversity into local policy, practice and individual development schemes.
The Greater London Authority report finds that ‘many more planning applications should be informed by biodiversity data searches than is currently the case. This is a problem because without the right data on the biodiversity impacts of a proposed development, the LPA can’t make an informed decision. That means LPAs may be granting planning permission to developments that will have unacceptable negative impacts on biodiversity.’
Permitted Development Rights and Biodiversity (England) Advice Note (ALGE, BCT and CIEEM, 2017)
Permitted development of certain agricultural to residential buildings may not require planning permission but are still subject to wildlife legislation. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government stated in a letter to the Bat Conservation Trust on 10th June 2014 that: “All development, including under permitted development rights, must comply with all relevant legislation and regulations. This includes EU regulations such as the Conservation of Species and Habitats Regulations 2010.“
Report on Ecological Competence and Capacity in English Planning Authorities – What is needed to delivery the statutory obligations on biodiversity? (Association of Local Government Ecologists, 2013)
The report highlights a local government capacity gap in assessing biodiversity in planning applications, where only one in three planning authorities in England have access to their own ‘in-house’ ecologist. A large number of planning authorities (65%) have no or only limited (part-time) access to any ‘in-house’ ecological expertise. The majority (90%) of local authority planners lack ecological qualifications. Authorities receive over 400,000 planning applications every year suggesting the current provision is ‘inadequate to deal with the relevant workload.’
State of Nature Report (National Biodiversity Network and over 70 partners, 2019)
Highlights how nearly one in seven UK species that are assessed are at risk of extinction in the UK. Calls for the government, charities, businesses, communities and individuals to work together to restore and enhance nature.
UK Biodiversity Indicators 2018 (DEFRA, JNCC, Natural England, NIEA, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Environment Agency, 2018)
An annual report of biodiversity data from government, research and voluntary organisations presents long and short term trends. The report indicates that between 1970 and 2015, 73% of ‘priority species’ showed a decline in abundance.
|Biodiversity in New Housing Developments: Creating Wildlife Friendly Communities (NHBC Foundation, 2021)
Urban Greening for Biodiversity Net Gain: A Design Guide (Greater London Authority, 2021)
SuDS Sector Guidance (Greater London Authority, 2021)
Biodiversity: A Toolbox Talk (Supply Chain School, 2019)
The Supply Chain School have produced this free online video explaining what is meant by ‘biodiversity’and ‘biodiversity net gain’ and it gives some examples of key protected species and invasive species that developers need to think about on a construction site.
Biodiversity Net Gain Metric 2.0 (Natural England)
The Biodiversity Metric 2.0 provides a way of measuring and accounting for biodiversity losses and gains resulting from development or land management change. Biodiversity Metric 2.0 updates and replaces the original Defra biodiversity metric. Biodiversity Metric 2.0 has been developed with input from a wide range of environmental NGOs, developers, land managers, Government agencies and other interested parties. It calculates the gain or loss for a proposed development and includes a tool to calculate habitat connectivity.
Biodiversity Net Gain: principles, guidance and good practice for UK construction and developments (CIEEM, CIRIA and IEMA, 2016 and 2019)
CIEEM, CIRIA and IEMA have written three documents aim to provide principles, guidance and good practice examples to help developers achieve a net gain in terms of biodiversity. The UK National Planning Policy Framework (2018) requires a ‘Biodiversity Net Gain’ where new developments should leave biodiversity in a better state than before they were started.
BRE Home Quality Mark (Building Research Establishment, 2015)
The Home Quality Mark is a standard that seeks to improve the quality of new homes. The standard includes a specific Ecology Criteria (HQM 04) which encourages developers to assess existing land use and ecology onsite in order “to ensure that ecological value is maintained, protected and enhanced, while any risks to the ecological value are eliminated or managed effectively throughout the development and into occupation”.
Building with Nature – green infrastructure benchmark (Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and University of the West of England, 2017)
Building with Nature is an online benchmark that aims to support the creation of high quality green infrastructure throughout the planning and development process. Green infrastructure includes parks, play areas, nature reserves and street trees, as well as rivers, ponds and other water features.
Creating greenroofs for invertebrates: Best practice guidance (Buglife International, 2012)
This guide is aimed at anyone planning to install a biodiverse green roof. It outlines how green roofs can support invertebrates, particularly those associated with wildlife-rich brownfield sites. It is also targeted at developers, planners, architects, engineers and landscape architects, encouraging them to consider creating biodiverse roofs as opposed to low-diversity sedum based systems. A series of basic principles are provided that need to be considered when designing a biodiverse roof.
Designing for Biodiversity: a technical guide for new and existing buildings. Second edition (Brian Murphy, Kelly Gunnell and Carol Williams, 2013)
This RIBA guide includes the latest information, techniques and building products available. It includes sections on improving biodiversity at the wider development level, and enhancement for biodiversity when considering the refurbishment of our existing housing stock. The book demonstrates that, if done sensitively, the development and refurbishment of buildings can, in fact, increase the ecological value of a site.
Financing options. Business models for nature smart cities. Z/Yen Group, 2020
Nature Smart Cities: Business Model – explores the finance that is already available to cities to deliver large-scale urban greening programmes and was written by the Z/Yen Group (commissioned by Southend Borough Council).
Green Infrastructure and Biodiversity. PERFECT Fact Sheet (Town and Country Planning Association, 2017)
A fact sheet outlining why biodiversity is important to people, the current threats to biodiversity and how investing in ecologically diverse green infrastructure, such as in parks, gardens, verges and riversides, can help both people and nature. The fact sheet is part of the five-year ‘PERFECT’ project (Planning for Environment and Resource efficiency in European Cities and Towns), running from Jan 2017 to Dec 2021, funded by the European Union. The project aims to demonstrate how the multiple uses of green infrastructure can provide social, economic and environmental benefits.
Homes for People and Nature: How to build housing in a nature friendly way. (The Wildlife Trusts, 2018)
This document sets out The Wildlife Trusts’ vision for new homes that are inspiring and beautiful places to live, and where people and nature thrive together. To achieve this, they describe a new approach that puts the natural environment at the heart of development and planning. The focus needs to move to where and how we build houses, not just how many we need to build.
Landscape and Urban Design for Bats and Biodiversity (Kelly Gunnell, Gary Grant, Carol Williams, 2012)
Landscape and Urban Design for Bats and Biodiversity presents simple but effective measures designers, consultants, developers and planners can use to enhance biodiversity on sites of all sizes with a focus on bats. Written, edited and reviewed by experts and practitioners the content covers landscape design features such as urban woodlands, trees, urban wetlands, green roofs, walls, linear features, eco-passages and lighting from a bat ecology perspective. It also includes a useful plant species list categorised by features such as rain gardens, green roofs, living walls and bed and borders based on plants that provide benefit to bats.
Managing Grassland Road Verges: Best practice guidance (Plantlife, 2019)
‘Cut less, less often’, a free guide outlining an annual two-cut management programme that allows flowers to complete their full lifecycle, replenish the seed bank, restore floral diversity, save councils money and provide pollinator habitats.
Action for Swifts blogspot
A commentary on the actions of people who care about swifts, with links to useful resources.
|Guidance on ecological appraisal
|BS 42020 Biodiversity. Code of practice for planning and development (British Standard, 2013)
The standard states ‘Where an applicant has been advised during pre-application discussions, or have themselves identified that they need to provide information on biodiversity with their planning application, they should ensure that what is submitted is sufficient to enable the decision-maker to validate and register the application’; and ‘Failure to provide all the information required might mean an application is not ‘valid’ and is not considered or determined’ (Clause 7.3).
Biodiversity data search – guidance for ecological consultants (Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning, 2019)
The ‘Biodiversity data search – guidance for ecological consultants‘ is a new document from the Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning. It provides guidance on conducting, interpreting and reporting on desk study biodiversity data searches (BDS), in relation to proposed developments on land (developments in the marine environment are excluded). The guidance aims to improve the way that biodiversity data is collected and interpreted by ecological consultants to inform planning decisions
Guidelines for Ecological Impact Assessment in the UK and Ireland: Terrestrial, Freshwater and Coastal, 2nd edition (Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Appraisals, 2016)
The report outlines best practice guidance for those undertaking an Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA). It states that EcIA is a process of identifying, quantifying and evaluating potential effects of development or other proposed actions on habitats, species and ecosystems. The findings of an assessment can help competent authorities understand ecological issues when determining applications for planning consent. When undertaken as part of a formal Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), EcIA is subject to the relevant EIA Regulations. However unlike EIA, EcIA on its own is not a statutory requirement. It is a best practice evaluation process undertaken to support a range of assessments.
Surveying for Badgers: Good Practice Guidelines (Scottish Badgers, 2018)
The purpose of this document is to provide a standardised survey methodology for the survey of the Eurasian badger (Meles meles) in Scotland. The Guidelines outline robust methods to collect and interpret badger field data, an overview of the current legal status of badgers in Scotland and how badger data should be managed, interpreted and shared.
Technical Guidance Series Guidance for Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Appraisals, 2013)
The report provides best practice guidance for those undertaking preliminary ecological appraisals (PEA), setting out the minimum standards required. It outlines key steps involved in an appraisal and recommends consistency in terminology across baseline appraisals to aid developers and planning authorities. The results of the PEA may indicate the need for a more detailed Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) which can then be used as evidence in a planning application.
|Key biodiversity legislation
|A Green Future – Our 25 year plan to improve the environment (HM Government, 2018)
The 25 year plan outlines how the UK government will help the natural world regain and retain good health. It aims to deliver cleaner air and water in our cities and rural landscapes, protect threatened species and provide richer wildlife habitats. It calls for an approach to land use that puts the environment first. Chapter 2 focuses on recovering natural landscapes and Chapter 3 calls for creating more ‘green infrastructure’ in our towns and cities.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act (HM Government, 1981)
The Wildlife and Countryside Act outlines legislation requirements outlining protections for bird, animal and plant wildlife. Various amendments have occurred since the original enactment with regards to the different countries in the UK, links and further information are included below.
Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act, England and Wales (HM Government, 2006)
The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006) states that every public authority has a statutory duty to have regard to conserving biodiversity as part of their policy or decision making. Conserving biodiversity can include restoring or enhancing a species population or habitat.
The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (HM Government, 2017)
The Regulations require competent authorities to consider or review planning permission, applied for or granted, affecting a European protected site (i.e. Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs)), and, subject to certain exceptions, restrict or revoke permission where the integrity of the site would be adversely affected.
The Conservation of Habitats and Species (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations (HM Government, 2019)
These amendments were made on 14 March 2019 and come into force on exit day. The Regulations ensure that the habitat and species protection and standards derived from EU law will continue to apply after Brexit.
The Wildlife and Natural Environment Act, Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland Executive, 2011)
The Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 states that: ‘It is the duty of every public authority, in exercising any functions, to further the conservation of biodiversity so far as it is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions’.
Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act (Scottish Government, 2004)
The Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 states that: ‘It is the duty of every public body and office-holder, in exercising any functions, to further the conservation of biodiversity so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions.’ (Section 1(1)).
Environment (Wales) Act (Welsh Government, 2016)
The Environment (Wales) Act 2016 states that: ‘A public authority must seek to maintain and enhance biodiversity in the exercise of functions in relation to Wales, and in so doing promote the resilience of ecosystems, so far as consistent with the proper exercise of those functions’ (Section 6).
|Key planning policies relating to biodiversity
The National Planning Policy Framework, England (HMG, 2019)
The National Planning Policy Framework sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these should be applied. It provides a framework within which locally-prepared plans for housing and other development can be produced. Chapter 15 focuses on how development plans should help conserve and enhance the natural environment. It states that planning policies and decisions should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by, ‘a) protecting and enhancing valued landscapes, sites of biodiversity or geological value and soils; b) minimising impacts on and providing net gains for biodiversity, including by establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures (para 117). It advises planning permission should be refused: if a development results in ‘significant harm to biodiversity’; the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats (such as ancient woodland and ancient or veteran trees); if the development is proposed within or around a Site of Special Scientific Interest (para 175).
Strategic Planning Policy Statement for Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland Executive, 2015)
The Strategic Planning Policy Statement for Northern Ireland (2015) states that a development proposal should only be granted planning permission if it is not likely to result in the unacceptable adverse impact on, or damage to: known priority habitats and species; active peatland; ancient and long-established woodland; features of earth science conservation importance; features of the landscape which are of major importance for wild flora and fauna; rare or threatened native species; wetlands (includes river corridors); or other natural heritage features worthy of protection including trees and woodland (para 6.192).
Scottish Planning Policy (Scottish Government, 2014)
The Scottish Planning Policy (2014) states that: ‘The planning system should… conserve and enhance protected sites and species (para 194); seek benefits for biodiversity from new development where possible; establish the presence of protected species that may be affected by a proposed development; and any impacts must be fully considered prior to the determination of the application. (para 214)
Planning Policy Wales (Welsh Government, 2016 & 2018)
The draft 10th edition of the Planning Policy Wales is states that development plans, strategies, policies and individual development proposals must take into account the need to conserve biodiversity; ensure statutorily designated sites are properly protected and managed; safeguard protected species; and seek ecosystem enhancement.