Incorporating Enhancements for Biodiversity

Within Government policy across the UK, there is a clear mandate, indeed an expectation, that plans should include positive proposals for biodiversity enhancement.

Over the last decade, Government policy has advanced the previous approach to planning for nature conservation by raising expectations about enhancement.

Until the late 1990’s the policy approach focused on protection and conservation. However, increasingly influenced by wider sustainability concerns, international obligations, biodiversity action planning, recognition of the need for an ecosystems approach, and by NGO and professional Institute pressure, Government recognised the need to encourage the planning system to play a part in habitat restoration, enhancement and creation and actions to increase species’ populations.

For example, see the Royal Town Planning Institute's influential ‘Planning for Biodiversity’ which recommended a ‘five point approach to all planning decisions (forward planning and development management) which would include enhancement.

By the time PPS 9 for England was published in 2005 Government policy consistently included the key principle that:

Plan policies and planning decisions should aim to maintain, and enhance, restore or add to biodiversity and geological conservation interests.” 

Scottish Planning Policy (February 2010)  says at paragraph 126:

Planning authorities should take a broader approach to landscape and natural heritage than just conserving designated or protected sites and species, taking into account the ecosystems and natural processes in their area. A strategic approach to natural heritage in which wildlife sites and corridors, landscape features, watercourses, and areas of open space are linked together in integrated habitat networks can make an important contribution to the maintenance and enhancement of biodiversity and to allowing ecosystems and natural processes to adapt and respond to changes in the climate. Planning authorities should seek to prevent further fragmentation or isolation of habitats and identify opportunities to restore links which have been broken. Where possible, planning authorities should seek benefits for species and habitats from new development including the restoration of degraded habitats.

Planning Policy Wales (edition 4 of February 2011) says at paragraph 5.4.1:

Development plans must set out the locational policy framework for the conservation and enhancement of the natural heritage within the context of an integrated strategy for social, economic and environmental development in line with sustainability principles. Plans should seek to conserve and enhance the natural heritage in ways which bring benefits to local communities and encourage social and economic progress

Welsh Assembly Government Technical Advice Note 5 Nature Conservation and Planning (2009) states at paragraph 1.61:

“Small scale opportunities for habitat creation and enhancement can be significant and can build into major contributions over time. This TAN demonstrates how local planning authorities, developers and key stakeholders in conservation can work together to deliver more sustainable development that does not result in losses from the natural heritage but instead takes every opportunity to enhance it.

Forward plans should include positive proposals for biodiversity enhancement.

Delivery will be a case-by-case approach and should be related to the key issues, objectives and opportunities discussed above.