Setting Planning Objectives

Plans should have clearly stated objectives relevant to biodiversity and these should:

  • be directly related to the key issues to be addressed by the plan;
  • relate to issues the plan can help to achieve, though it may need help from other sources too;
  • draw on and progress the vision;
  • be locally relevant and place-specific, rather than general and vague aspirations that may apply anywhere;
  • be ambitious but achievable;
  • be as specific as possible;
  • lead the drafting of policies and proposals;
  • draw on the objectives already set out in higher tier plans, Nature Conservation Strategies and Biodiversity Action Plans, and Community Plans and Strategies where these address biodiversity related issues; and
  • be related to ‘biodiversity opportunity areas’ where available.

Objectives should not be a vague wish list but a clear statement of what needs to be done to deliver sustainable development; what needs to be conserved; and what should be replaced, improved, restored or created.

Objectives should respect ‘critical natural capital’ which, if lost or spoiled, can never be replaced, such as peatlands and ancient semi-natural woodland, or genetically unique populations of species, or natural river or coastal systems.

It is important to appreciate how long it is likely to take to achieve objectives. Timescales are relevant not only for meeting conventionally defined planning objectives such as those relating to affordable housing or employment provision, but also for understanding how long it might take to reverse the effects of fragmentation and habitat loss.

Objectives will vary between and within different plan areas, so the different objectives for differing areas will form the basis for identifying spatial variations in the plan and lower tier plans.