This is a free online tool for householders and small to medium-scale developers who want to undertake a development project to check whether they will need expert ecological advice before submitting a planning application. This tool is not intended for large development projects where formal Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) are required according to EIA regulations.
*The Wildlife Assessment Check is available to use from Tuesday, 20th November 2018. The tool has been reviewed by the Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning but we will be refining it further through use and feedback received.*
Local planning authorities have a statutory duty to consider the potential impacts of a development on protected and priority species, habitats and statutory designated sites, such as Sites of Special Scientific Importance (SSSIs), that are protected by law.
The Wildlife Assessment Check considers whether there are any protected and priority wildlife species and statutory designated sites that may be impacted by a development project. It will enable users to undertake a simple check at the pre-planning application stage, before a planning application is submitted. This will help clarify for applicants and planners whether a proposed site needs professional ecological advice and further assessment.
The key aims of the Wildlife Assessment Check are to:
- Ensure protected and priority species and statutory designated sites for nature conservation are considered early in the planning process
- Ensure professional ecological input is sought at an early stage of a development project
- Ensure necessary ecological assessments are carried out and submitted as part of a planning application
The key benefits are for:
NOTE: It is important for users to note that the Wildlife Assessment Check is for guidance only. It is not designed to replace the judgement of a qualified professional ecologist about the potential wildlife impact of a development project. It has been developed for local authorities who have more limited in-house ecological capacity. Applicants should consult their local authority ecologist where they are present, to ensure that a proposed development does not require an ecological appraisal.
The tool uses national species maps and triggers that do not always pick up local species data. In addition, although certain natural habitats are associated to protected and priority species, the tool does not hold information on ‘priority habitats’ (such as rivers, hedgerows and ancient woodlands) or Local Wildlife Sites that may need to be considered in terms of ecological impact. So we would always advise that the ecological consultant seeks additional information from the local environmental record centre and Local Wildlife Groups, as well as consider conducting a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal.