When planned and delivered well, development can have a positive impact for wildlife.
Developers need to identify the potential impact of their proposed development on local wildlife and make sure that measures are taken to avoid, mitigate and as a last resort, compensate for any detrimental effects. This is known as the mitigation hierarchy.
Getting a survey done
Where there is a reasonable risk of harm to wildlife, developers should commission an ecological survey of the site and its buildings, to identify likely impacts and inform mitigation. The results from surveys should feed into the design planning of developments.
It is imperative that suitable ecological surveys are undertaken where there is a chance that a development may impact upon wildlife, including protected and priority habitats and species. Where there is a reasonable likelihood of harm but the required surveys have not been done, then planning applications should be refused.
Incorporating measures for wildlife
Negative ecological impacts can be avoided and mitigated through choosing a considerate location and layout, modifying the design of the development, and using landscaping positively to protect and enhance what wildlife and habitat is already there.
A net gain for biodiversity can be delivered through creating wildlife-friendly landscaping, incorporating spaces for wildlife in buildings and within the development, and looking to improve ecological connectivity, for instance.
Developments can impact on wildlife and ecological networks in various ways, both during construction and operation of the development. Impacts may be temporary or permanent.
Issues to consider
Loss or damage of important wildlife habitat
Important wildlife habitats include statutory nature conservation sites, Local Wildlife Sites, Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) priority habitats, or habitat that is important in providing an ecological link.
Indirect impacts on important habitats
Through pollution, air quality changes, artificial lighting, noise disturbance, increased recreational pressure, etc.
Potential risks to protected or priority species
For instance through:
- loss or damage of breeding sites or resting places;
- loss or damage of foraging habitat;
- loss of habitat connectivity;
- injury or killing of individual animals during construction, etc.
Statutory nature conservation sites include:
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Ramsar sites (wetland sites of international significance).
Priority habitats means:
NERC Act Section 41 habitats of principle conservation importance and national and local Biodiversity Action Plan priority habitats.
Protected species include:
European Protected Species (including bats, otters, dormice, great crested newts) and species protected by domestic legislation (including reptiles, water voles, badgers, nesting birds). Further information is available from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, which advises government.
Priority species means:
NERC Act Section 41 species of principle conservation importance and national and local Biodiversity Action Plan priority species.
Advice on protected species
Natural England has issued advice on protected species, which local planning authorities should consider when making planning decisions. This advice helps case officers to decide whether there is a reasonable likelihood of protected species being present, and provides advice on survey and mitigation requirements. The standing advice is a useful resource for case officers, for planning applicants when considering a development and also for local people concerned about developments in their area that may affect wildlife.