Bernwood Ecology is a CIEEM Registered Practice offering pragmatic and bespoke solutions to the public and private sectors relating to ecological matters. All our work is carried out by experienced professional ecologists to the highest standards.
In many cases, an initial site walkover will be undertaken, known as a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (or Extended Phase I Habitat Survey). This scoping survey records and assesses habitats on site for ecological value and identifies the presence, or likely presence, of protected species on site. It can be used to detect ecological constraints of a proposed development and biodiversity enhancement opportunities within site designs.
The Planning System and Ecology
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF, 2019) requires the planning system and policies to balance the social, economic and environmental factors for sustainable development. Additionally, the planning system must contribute to and enhance the local environment by protecting and enhancing valued landscapes, recognising the wider benefits of healthy ecosystems, minimising impacts on biodiversity, and providing net gains including establishing ecological networks that are resilient to pressures.
Increasingly, habitat losses, gains and enhancement values are being assessed using a Biodiversity Net Gain Calculator, such as the Warwickshire or DEFRA models. If a site is in close proximity to a ‘habitats site’, also known as a European or Natura 2000 site, a competent authority, through a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA), will need to determine whether the development is compliant with the site protections required by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as ammended).
The presence of protected species is a material consideration during a planning application by the Plannning Authority when impacts on the species or its habitat may be a consequence of the development. Planning Authorities are likely to request information about the presence of protected species where there is a reasonable likelihood of them being impacted through the proposals, and your planning application could be refused if there is a lack of information for a decision to be made.
Bernwood Ecology goes the extra mile for our clients, consulting with Local Planning Authorities and liaising with all project contractors across disciplines, to help get projects over that finish line while maintaining and improving high industry standards.
Legislation and Brexit
It is understood that 2017 Habitat Regulations will be amended due to the departure of the UK from the EU on 31st January 2020. From that date, the provisions in The Conservation of Habitats and Species (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 will apply.
Existing protection for habitats and species including standards and assessment procedures will remain as they have been prior to the UK leaving the EU. The 2017 Habitats Regulations and The Conservation of Habitats and Species (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 should be read together until further clarification or changes are made available by the UK Government or legal case law.
The proposed Environment Bill aims to deliver the 25 Year Environment Plan, which addresses the climate and environmental crises through protecting and improving air quality, water, biodiversity, and resource efficiency.