Key Issues

What are the key issues that your plan should tackle in terms of biodiversity?

These may be related to the nature, scale and location of the development or other changes that your plan will promote. For example the range of issues may include:

  • conservation of high quality wildlife-rich environments
  • protection of important wildlife places and features (whether designated or not) in areas where change will be promoted and concentrated by the plan
  • improvement of water quality in rivers and water bodies or at the coast
  • reducing the effects of air pollution on sensitive habitats
  • managing sensitive coastal habitats
  • responding to sea-level rise
  • facilitating other effects of climate change
  • managing increasing visitor or recreational pressure on vulnerable habitats and species
  • ensuring that biodiversity enhancement is used pro-actively to create better new places for people to live, work and enjoy
  • promoting multi-purpose green infrastructure
  • creating or strengthening green corridors or other links between isolated or fragmented biodiversity ‘hot-spots’
  • making space for nature in growth areas
  • building biodiversity enhancement into masterplans and area action plans.

A single plan may need to embrace more than one of these issues and the list is not comprehensive of all issues.

There are opportunities to air the key issues by raising or responding to issues at early plan making stages, such as the Issues and Options Report (England), the Issues Paper (Northern Ireland) and Main Issues Report (Scotland) and Pre-deposit Consultation Documents (Wales).

Early and informal consultation with nature conservation bodies (both statutory and NGOs) and the ecological community (in-house or in the Environment Agency or SEPA) can bring issues to light that might not otherwise have been considered.

You should be able to clearly identify the issues your plan should address, because they are important, relevant to the plan and its purpose and which the plan can actually influence (or be influenced by).

Ensure that these key issues are:

  • at the forefront of thinking at each stage of the plan-making process, including stages of public consultation; and
  • in each part of the plan, they should be in the vision, objectives, policies, proposals, targets, implementation programmes and monitoring.

This will help you to keep the plan’s focus on biodiversity sharp, relevant and meaningful. It will avoid unnecessary or fruitless work; it will assist the strategic environmental assessment / sustainability appraisal processes, and the appraisal of the plan under the Habitats Regulations.