Click on the following list for links to publications with information and guidance about the importance of including Biodiversity in the Planning process.

 

Why do we need to think about biodiversity in planning and building projects? 

UK Biodiversity Indicators 2018 (DEFRA, JNCC, Natural England, NIEA, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Environment Agency, 2018)

Further information
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.

State of Nature Report (RSPB and 50 nature conservation partners, 2016)

Further information
Highlights how 56 % of nearly 4000 species assessed declined between 2002-2013 and that 13 per cent of nearly 8000 UK species assessed are at risk of extinction. Calls for the government, charities, businesses, communities and individuals to work together to bring nature back.

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)

Further information
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.’

Planning for Biodiversity? Are development proposals being informed by appropriate data on species and habitats? (GLA, 2016)

Further information
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)

Further information
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.

How do we promote biodiversity gain in building projects?

Designing for Biodiversity: a technical guide for new and existing buildings. Second edition (Brian Murphy, Kelly Gunnell and Carol Williams, 2013)

Further information
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.

Landscape and urban design for bats and biodiversity (Kelly Gunnell, Gary Grant, Carol Williams, 2012)

Further information
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.

Biodiversity Net Gain: principles, guidance and good practice for UK construction and developments (CIEEM, CIRIA and IEMA, 2016 and 2019)

Further information
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)

Further information
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)

Further information
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.

Green infrastructure and Biodiversity. PERFECT Fact Sheet (Town and Country Planning Association, 2017)

Further information
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.
Guidance on ecological appraisal

Credit: A. Wellbelove
BS 42020 Biodiversity. Code of practice for planning and development (British Standard, 2013)

Further information
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).

CIEEM Guidelines for Ecological Impact Assessment in the UK and Ireland: Terrestrial, Freshwater and Coastal, 2nd edition (Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Appraisals, 2016)

Further information
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.

CIEEM Technical Guidance Series Guidance for Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Appraisals, 2013)

Further information
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)

Further information
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)

Further information
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)

Further information
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)

Further information
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 Wildlife and Natural Environment Act, Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland Executive, 2011)

Further information
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)

Further information
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)

Further information
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, 2018)

Further information
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)

Further information
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)

Further information
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)

Further information
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.

Further information: Case studies