Planning is the spatial tool that integrates social, economic and environmental considerations. Forward planning and development control provide opportunities to maintain and enhance biodiversity, improve our quality of life and provide mechanisms for adaptation to climate change.
Suffolk is a leader in integrating biodiversity into the planning process having introduced the 1 App process and a Suffolk biodiversity checklist, now adopted by all 7 local authorities. Each of the authorities contributes to Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service (SBIS) and in return is able to freely access records held by SBIS on County Wildlife Sites and other biological records.
Using your biodiversity evidence base
Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service provides biodiversity information to a variety of stakeholders including all local authorities in the county, Natural England and Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Working in partnership, the Information Service has built a rigorous evidence base on habitats and species through survey and monitoring programmes. The information is updated annually and should be used for forward planning, land management, advisory work and sustainability appraisal. There is an ongoing programme of work to map priority habitats in the county. Species data (currently 3.2 million records) is continually updated; data can be accessed via the NBN Gateway.
- Consider sites for inclusion in your local Green Infrastructure strategy that complement development and protect sensitive wildlife areas.
- Local authority planning departments can consult their own Countryside staff on biodiversity checklist issues to take advantage of in-house expertise or consider employing an ecologist.
- Seek enhancements for biodiversity on all planning applications (i.e. green / brown roofs, planting of native trees and plants).
Suffolk County Council Ecologists
Suffolk County Council (SCC) Ecologists provide specialist interpretation of their in-house GIS map layers to identify ecological constraints and opportunities for SCC projects. Advice ranges from impacts of planned maintenance work (e.g. on boiler rooms with bat roosts) to compensatory or enhancement requirements of planning applications.
This helps to meet the Council’s Biodiversity duty and ISO 14001 Environmental Management System requirements. The ecological interpretation reports also ensure that SCC planning applications meet the biodiversity validation checklist requirements.
Special note: A Biodiversity Toolkit for planners has been developed by the Association of Local Government Ecologists – visit http://www.biodiversityplanningtoolkit.com/ The toolkit aims to provide a range of sophisticated tools to help planners deal with the complexities of biodiversity issues.
“Forward planning and development control provide opportunities to maintain and enhance biodiversity”