The Ecological Impact of PPS9 and Circular 05/06
So for six years now we have known that Planning Policy Statement 9: biodiversity and geological conservation, requires that planning applicants obtain ecological reports from suitably qualified ecologists, to accompany and validate their application. But why? Well, in the UK, a handful of legislative instruments afford many flora and fauna with substantial, robust and well-tested legal protection. Chief among these is the Habitats Regulations 2010, which transposes the EC Habitats Directive in the UK, a piece of European wide legislation that protects both certain species of plant an animal, as well as habitats of value.
Planning Policy Statement 9 replaces PPG9
PPS9 was updated and reinforced by Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Circular 06/2005 which “compliments national planning policy” (DCLG 2005) and directs local authorities to consider protected species and habitats as a “material consideration” (ODPM 2005) in the planning process. It states that where appropriate mitigation for protected species cannot be scientifically justified as adequate (i.e. via surveys) then planning permission should be refused.
What is the impact of PPS9?
An extract from a Google document clearly shows the impact of PPS9’s introduction. The trend in Internet searches for queries such as e.g. “bat survey” or “great crested newt” was practically none existent pre-2006. The uptake of PPS9 by local planning offices around the country caused search queries to jump to a noticeable level in 2006 onwards. There is yet more subtlety to the data, because as you can see, “great crested newt” search queries spike around April, which is the breeding and survey season! Likewise with the winter months, when bats are hibernating, the troughs in the data correspond almost exactly.
PPS9 is good news for developers?
The impact of PPS9 then, is that councils around the UK are using it as central government guidance to conserve and enhance biodiversity at development sites, or at least minimize the impact of development on protected species and habitats. This is good news for developers. It means that at long last, we are slowly getting towards the stage where standards and guidance for ‘do I/don’t I’ need an ecological survey are being consistently applied. Yes, there is a cost in surveys, and yes, they can delay your development if inappropriately managed or you try to cut corners. But, it does mean that for those who get surveys done up front and properly, protected species are no longer a barrier to the planning process: they are simply part of it.
If you would like to discuss protected species at your site—why not call for an informal chat on 08450 176950?
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