We encourage local residents to participate in consultations on Local Plans.
We prioritise staff time by working on those cases where there will be the most significant positive or negative effects on wildlife. There are many other planning applications coming forward though, where local residents can play a role.
Keep an eye open for consultation announcements on your district council’s website and in the local press. Local Plan consultations are generally open for six weeks. Make sure you read through the consultation documents and background information when considering your reply, and submit your comments in the format requested by your local council.
Where possible, try to draw on policy in the National Planning Policy Framework and other relevant government policies, guidance and legislation, in order to justify any objections.
At the end of the day, though, consultations are for the public and the council officers will not expect you to be experts in planning. They should be able to interpret your objections and comments in planning terms. Make sure to include where relevant any knowledge you have on your local area, including its wildlife interest. Council officers may not be aware of it.
Ten tips for responding to planning applications
- Make sure to read through the plans and documents, so that you have a clear view of what the development entails and what the impacts may be. Plans and documents are made available for public viewing on your district/borough council’s website. You can contact the case officer for the application if you would like more information.
- Consider what impacts the proposed development may have on wildlife. Read through any ecological surveys that have been submitted with the application, and refer to them in your comment. If no surveys have been done, but you think they should have been, state this in your comment. You may like to make reference to Natural England's Standing Advice on protected species. Please see our page on development and wildlife for more information.
- Follow your council’s instructions for submitting comments. Normally you can submit your comments online through your council’s planning portal, or by email or letter to the case officer or to the planning department. Make sure to include the application reference number in the subject line or heading.
- Make your letter concise, and communicate your concerns clearly.
- Present your concerns in a formal, polite and effective manner.
- Clearly relate and ground your comments in Local Plan policy, national planning policy or other legislation. Case officers will only consider matters that are ‘material considerations’ in the planning system, which basically means they must be covered by legislation or planning policy. Please refer to our page on planning policy.
- Where relevant, remind the local authority of wildlife legislation, national biodiversity policy and the Hertfordshire Biodiversity Action Plan.
- Be realistic and constructive in your comments, for instance suggesting alternative locations or design solutions that would overcome your concerns.
- Keep in mind that the local authority may decide that overall the benefits of a proposal outweigh any possible harm. Consider and suggest to the case officer how the wildlife issues may be effectively mitigated or compensated for. Recommend to the case officer that conditions are applied to ensure sufficient and suitable biodiversity mitigation and enhancement if the development is granted permission.
- Remember, your view is important and the local authority has a duty to listen.