Planning and Biodiversity Seminar 2016
11 November 2016, West Suffolk House, Bury St Edmunds
What the delegates said:
- Very insightful and knowledgeable presentations
- Varied, covered wide range of subjects both policy and development management
- Really good and interesting talks. Especially liked those with practical mitigation case studies/examples
- The first section on planning and report quality was excellent – thank you
Click on an image to open or download the presentation slides
1: Update on key national issues
Mike Oxford, ALGE
Mike addressed hopes and concerns over the Neighbourhood Planning Bill and the likely implications for the natural environment of proposed changes in pre-commencement conditions. He also outlined new Reporting Templates from CIEEM and ALGE for dealing with applications likely to have a low impact on biodiversity. He covered the value of Biodiversity Mitigation Method Statements and also how those scrutinising planning applications can systematically assess whether ecological information is adequate to determine an application.
2: Five things a Planner can do
Jaki Fisher, West Suffolk Council, James Meyer, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Lisa Chandler, East Suffolk Council
This short presentation demonstrated how every planner can make a contribution to protecting biodiversity in their ‘day job’. The talk highlighted five simple things to take into account when considering planning applications and making decisions.
3: What Good Mitigation Looks Like
Ali North, Suffolk Wildlife Trust
Ali covered basic hedgehog ecology and how this makes them vulnerable in a development context. She then ran through simple measures to address these issues, appropriate to both Forward Planning and Development Control.
3b. Common Toads
Jim Foster, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust
Jim summarised how planning decisions can affect common toads both positively and negatively. He outlined key points for consideration in planning, including survey, impact assessment, mitigation design and incorporation in greenspace.
Edward Jackson, Suffolk Ornithologists Group
Edward gave a short update on what has been achieved with Swift conservation in Suffolk during the last year. Results from the Suffolk Swift Survey are now being forwarded to planners in Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service updates. How can these data best be used to safeguard existing nest sites and also create new ones using planning conditions?
4: Bridging the gap: Local authorities working together to protect barbastelle bats at a landscape scale
David White, Norfolk County Council
The talk demonstrated the synergies between the delivery of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road and the development of a Green Infrastructure Strategy and policies for the North-east Norwich Growth Triangle Area Action Plan, facilitating 13,500 new homes whilst ensuring the long-term viability of a nationally important Barbastelle Bat population.
5: Visitor Survey Results from Natura2000 sites in Norfolk
Durwyn Liley and Chris Panter, Footprint Ecology
Through 2015 and 2016, Footprint Ecology undertook visitor surveys across different European sites in Norfolk. The work, commissioned by the County Council on behalf of local authorities across Norfolk, compared visitor data across different parts of the county and predicted the changes in access likely to result from new housing in the current plan period.
6: The Biodiversity Duty
Mike Oxford, Association of Local Government Ecologists
Mike recapped what we mean by the ‘NERC Biodiversity Duty’ and now, after 11 years, examined how it is still being applied. Or has it become obsolete! He also reviewed some of the other biodiversity duties (and powers) that relate to local authorities and provided a personal perspective on what Brexit holds for the Habitats Directive and the future of biodiversity conservation in the UK. (See SBIS website for further information on the Biodiversity Duty)
7: Managing risks of development near European Sites – a quick & dirty guide to Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) requirements
Collins, Natural England and Sue Hooton, Suffolk County Council
HRA screening seeks to ascertain whether or not a proposal (either alone or in combination with other proposals) is likely to have a significant effect on a European Site. This quick and dirty guide aimed to answer what you wanted to ask about HRA but were afraid to ask! WHY is an HRA required? WHAT is involved in a screening exercise? WHAT is meant by Appropriate Assessment? WHAT is required for an HRA? HOW can likely impacts be assessed? WHAT is meant by ‘alone or in combination’? HOW can mitigation required by HRA be secured? WHO needs to be involved in preparing HRAs?