If you are a developer or ecological or planning consultant, Building Wildlife can provide help and support with biodiversity net gain offsetting or commuted sums for protected species conservation if, for example, there is insufficient land within the development boundary for wildlife mitigation and habitat protection.
All proposals are considered on a project-by-project basis by a panel of experts. If you wish to discuss your project in detail, please contact Building Wildlife either via the website or email.
If you wish to make a contribution to Building Wildlife to help fund local projects for the benefit of wildlife conservation, please get in contact - email firstname.lastname@example.org
When preparing, and then subsequently determining development proposals, developers and planning authorities need to refer to the local and national planning policy context which lies at the heart of decision making. Development plans are the starting point for the consideration and determination of planning applications and these contain policies aimed at protecting environmental interests and biodiversity. Planning Policy Wales (PPW) and the technical advice issued by Welsh Government in the form of TAN5 (Nature Conservation and Planning) provide the national context with which the local development plans need to be in conformity.
The planning policy context has changed significantly in recent years moving from a requirement that development shall not have a ‘significant adverse impact’ on wildlife habitats and species to include both protection and the need to improve and enhance biodiversity. The approach to development is to 'leave biodiversity in a better state than before development takes place and this is a significant part of sustainable development. Where a development has significant negative impact then planning permission can be refused’
Development plan policies include general development principles such as the need to ‘conserve and enhance the quality of biodiversity and safeguard protected species’ which are supported by more specific policies. These detailed policies can take the form of requirements such as;
In the first instance, the aim of a developer in bringing forward a site for development should be to retain ecological features such as trees, hedgerows and streams wherever possible and take the opportunity to enhance biodiversity through design. It is important that this is considered early on in the design process well before submission of a planning application. The creation of viable ecological networks with connections between them enabling species to move through wildlife corridors and stepping stones helps counter the fragmentation and isolation of wildlife habitats. Good design can incorporate on site mitigation but if this is not possible or practical then the planning authority will require off site measures in mitigation. Developers needs to be mindful that if proposals affect a known breeding or resting site then an appropriate new habitat will have to be created prior to the destruction of the original aquatic or terrestrial habitat under an European Protected Species (EPS) licence.
Appropriate mitigation can be challenging for developers and in order to help them Councils have backed up their policies with more detailed guidance in the form of Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG). All the planning authorities in North East Wales have adopted SPGs on biodiversity mitigation requirements for protected species. These provide advice to developers and landowners but are also aimed at council officers and councillors in considering and making decisions on planning applications which may impact on, or are in close proximity to, protected species that are considered of principal importance through wildlife legislation in Wales. In the recent past they have tended to focus on great crested newts but they apply in principle to all protected species.
Building Wildlife can help both at the pre-application stage and with any required mitigation following the grant of planning permission. Some ecological gain works will be required on site and conditioned to be carried out as part of the development. It is the off-site works or commuted sum payments by the developer in lieu of suitable off site work where Building Wildlife can help in implementation of the requirements of planning permission. These off-site works will generally be subject to legal agreement such as a Section 106 Obligation and the requirements and commuted sums will be proportionate to the scale of the development and its impact on biodiversity. Very often these sums of money are not sufficient on their own to deliver a viable and sustainable project. However, by directing contributions to voluntary organisations such as Building Wildlife this enables individual contributions to be pooled so that the total sums received can be effectively used to help fund projects which meet with the requirements of the planning permission and the Trust’s objectives.
Priority species occurring in North East Wales include great crested newts, several species of bats, barn owls, otters, water voles and slow worms as well as many plants including slender hare's ear and frog orchid.
The majority of developments do not directly affect identified sites but rather habitats of varying quality adjacent to, or in proximity to those known sites. The likelihood of a site being used by any of the species listed as of principal importance is based on habitat quality and its proximity to key areas within the habitat such as a breeding pond. The principal issue is determining when mitigation or compensation is required and the form this should take in order to maintain what is referred to in legislation as the "favourable conservation status" of the species. Surveys of potentially suitable habitats are likely to be required together with access to local records such those held by the North Wales Biological Record Centre (COFNOD), ARC (Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, RSPB or other local wildlife groups.
Where the development is in proximity to a designated newt site of Special Area of Conservation (Table 1) then there is an additional requirement to assess the direct, indirect, and in combination, effects to ensure that there is no likely significant effect upon the integrity of the site.
|Flintshire||Deeside & Buckley Newt Sites||Connah’s Quay Ponds & Woodlands|
|Maes y Grug|
|Buckley Claypits & Commons|
|Halkyn Mountain||Halkyn Common And Holywell Grasslands|
|Wrexham||Johnstown Newt Site||Stryt Las a'r Hafod|
Whilst the preference will generally be for on-site mitigation the other preferred alternative options are for:
Developments of up to 10 dwellings are not normally required to provide mitigation land unless readily available as it would be inappropriate in relation to size constraints and the subsequent management of areas of limited value. Such developments will instead be expected to make a financial contribution to enhance existing populations. For developments of more than 10 dwellings, like-for-like mitigation will be expected.
It is expected that there will be additional requirements for developments adjacent to or in close proximity to SACs to provide informal recreational areas to avoid increased pressures on the designated site. Where this cannot be incorporated into the development proposals, a financial contribution for enhancements within the SAC buffer may be acceptable.
In order to satisfy the ‘three tests’ and maintain favourable conservation status in the long term, areas of mitigation/compensation must be secured in perpetuity. It is important to ensure that financial and legal provision is made for the future management of the mitigation/compensation areas. NRW’s preferred option is for the area to be handed over or with a long-term lease with sufficient resources to a Wildlife Trust or similar organisation. The resources may be provided upfront or annually through a management company.
Building Wildlife would be pleased to discuss projects and ways in which we could help. Some examples of the projects that we have assisted can be found on the following link. If you'd like more information about wildlife compensation, you can contact us by emailing email@example.com
If you would like to submit an application for wildlife compensation, you can complete our application form below or you can download the Building Wildlife compensation form here;
Are you contemplating carrying out a local conservation project? We’re here to offer advice & assist with funding.