National Planning Policy Framework 2012
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New updated content to follow soon reflecting the introduction of the NPPF and the withdrawl of PPS 9.
Circular 06/05: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation - Statutory Obligations and Their Impact Within the Planning System
This circular explains how the the law relates to planning and nature conservation in England. As such, the Circular complements the national planning policy expressed in Planning Policy Statement 9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation (PPS9) and the accompanying Planning for Biodiversity and Geological Conservation: A Guide to Good Practice.
International Sites: Part I deals with planning controls in relation to sites of international conservation importance including European sites designated under the Habitats Regulations 1994 .However, it should be noted that this advice was superseded following amendments to the Habitats Regulations in 2007. In particular, Section G of Part 1 is now out of date. Therefore it is suggested that this Circular be read in conjunction with Planning for the Protection of European Sites: Appropriate Assessment.
Sites of Special Scientific Interest: Part II provides guidance on planning and development control in relation to SSSI’s notified under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.
Conservation of Habitats and Species Outside of Designated Sites: Part III deals with planning and development control in relation to the conservation of habitats and species outside of the designated sites in Parts I and II. It reminds local planning authorities and developers that important species and habitats (including those included in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and Local Biodiversity Action Plans) occur outside of protected sites and can be a material consideration in planning. Again this section has been somewhat superseded by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006) which amends the duty on all public bodies to conserve biodiversity and in particular amends the list of species and habitats of principal importance for biodiversity conservation in England and in Wales.
Protected Species: Part IV of the Circular deals with protected species and their treatment in the plan making and development control processes. The Circular stresses that:
“It is essential that the presence or otherwise of protected species, and the extent that they may be affected by the proposed development, is established before the planning permission is granted, otherwise all relevant material considerations may not have been addressed in making the decision”.
The Circular reminds local planning authorities and developers that in addition to planning permission, licenses may be needed if protected species are affected by development in any way – including any mitigation measures that may be a condition of planning permission e.g. where a protected species has to be moved.
EIA and SEA:
Part V of the Circular reminds local planning authorities of their statutory obligations with respect to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and the Water Framework Directive.
Local Sites: Guidance on their Identification, Selection and Management
This guidance sets out the rationale for the identification and conservation of locally important sites for biodiversity and geodiversity and gives best practice guidance in identifying, selecting and managing such sites.
The guidance is intended to promote more transparent and consistent approaches in the operation of Local Sites systems across the country, embracing regional and local diversity and variation within the natural environment. It outlines the roles and purposes of Local Sites systems and proposes frameworks and standards for their operation as well as for the selection, protection and management of the sites themselves. In most areas, local authorities, working with other local partners, have set up systems of locally valued non-statutory sites. Supporting in the region of 35,000 Local Sites, these systems contribute significantly to delivering both UK Biodiversity Action Plan and Local Biodiversity Action Plan and geodiversity conservation targets.
Local Sites are known by a variety of names e.g. SINC (Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation) and selected in different ways. The overall objective of this guidance is to create a more consistent sense of the value and importance of Local Sites by securing broader awareness of this and support for their protection, and in particular, promoting:
- Local Sites systems that sit in their rightful place within the Government’s overall strategy for biodiversity and geological conservation;
- appropriate dialogue and involvement across the range of relevant stakeholders;
- the operation of clearly understood processes and criteria for the selection of sites;
- the maintenance of a suite of sites that remain relevant at any point in time; and,
- Local Sites systems operated in a transparent way that can be communicated with confidence
- to all parties from landowners to developers.