Planners' Page

Welcome to the 'Planners' Page', dedicated to supporting Suffolk's Local Authority planners and others in their work. We can help you to keep on top of current issues in biodiversity and planning.

Suffolk and Norfolk Planning & Biodiversity Seminar 2016

Friday 11th November 2016

West Suffolk House, Western Way, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 3YU

This year's seminar provided opportunities to exchange ideas with like-minded professionals, gain new perspectives and increase understanding of how to deal with biodiversity issues in planning. A range of tropics were covered including inexpensive, practical mitigation ideas for hedgehogs, swifts and toads, landscape scale projects and the challenges of dealing with international sites, such as visitor surveys and Habitats Regulations Assessments. 

View the presentations on ISSUU here

Suffolk Biodiversity Validation Checklist [Click here to download pdf]

The Validation Checklist should be used where a Biodiversity or Geodiversity Assessment is required because the site includes or is close to:

  • Sites designated or proposed for their biodiversity or geodiversity importance, i.e. Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Ramsar sites, National Nature Reserves (NNR), Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Areas (SPA), County Wildlife Sites (CWS), and UK and Suffolk Priority (BAP) Habitats and Regionally Important Geological/geomorphologic Sites (RIGS) designations. 
  • Areas including or close to recorded locations of Protected species, and UK and Suffolk Priority species.
  • Other areas identified in pre-application discussions as potentially containing Protected and Priority species.

The appropriate seasons for undertaking ecological surveys are identified in Fig. 2, attached to Table 1.

The Checklist includes the relevant extract from the British Standard on Biodiversity (BS42020). BS4020 is a Code of Practice for biodiversity in planning. Section 8 refers to the requirement to provide adequate information to enable determination of planning applications.

Suffolk Recommended Approach for Bats and Small Wind Turbines

Suffolk Planning Group published a recommended approach for bats and small wind turbines in March 2013. The guidance takes the form of an easy to follow flowchart and accompanying rationale for the advice it contains.

The flowchart is available here

Annual Suffolk and Norfolk Planning & Biodiversity Seminar

Planning Seminar 2011

Organised by Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service, Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership and the Association for Local Government Ecologists for planning professionals and ecological consultants. The event has become increasing popular, providing excellent Continuing Professional Development and networking opportunities.

Delegates come from Norfolk and Suffolk, with visitors from Essex and Cambridgeshire. The audiences, of about 90 people, hear about the latest national and regional developments as well as Best Practice for incorporating biodiversity into spatial planning and development management.

Topics have included Wildlife Crime, Actions for Swifts, Turtle Doves, Stag Beetles and Reptiles, Bio-offsetting, Green Infrastructure, Suffolk Nature Strategy, Recreational Disturbance on European Sites, Habitat Regulations Assessment and Solar Farms. The inspiring and thought-provoking presentations for 2013-2016 seminars can be freely downloaded via the links.

Seminar Archive - Click below to see the agenda, presentations and infomation from the events:

Seminar 2016

Seminar 2015

Seminar 2014

Seminar 2013

Planners' workshop - 'Applying the biodiversity validation checklist with confidence'

We held a training workshop for planners on 2nd July 2013, achieving our aim of boosting confidence in applying the biodiversity validation checklist. Participants gained hands-on practice with the checklist by working through 5 case studies of planning applications which reflected various biodiversity scenarios including County Wildlife Sites, Great Crested Newt records and barn conversions. The presentations can be downloaded below:

Update on the Suffolk Biodiversity Validation Checklist - Sue Hooton, Suffolk County Council

Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Role in the Development Management Process - James Meyer

Natural England's Standing Advice for Protected Species

Planners' Newsletter 

If you would like to sign up to receive the free e-newsletter, please email

View Issue 6 Autumn 2016 newsletter 

Autumn 2016 contents: Suffolk and Norfolk Planning & Biodiversity Seminar, Connecting with nature offers a new approach to mental health care, a recreational avoidance and mitigation strategy for Ipswich Borough and Babergh and Suffolk Coastal District Councils, Householder’s guide to engaging an ecologist, Most significant conviction for bat crime ever recorded, National Wildlife Crime Unit funded to 2020, Defra publish guidance for providing and protecting habitat for wild birds, News on biodiversity offsetting, Protected species: how to review planning applications, Street lighting disturbs  pollinating moths, State of Nature Report 2016, Natural England response time to planning applications, New Nature After Minerals website, Goodbye to Sue Hooton, Protected Species focus - Bats

Planners update front page

View Issue 4 Spring 2015 newsletter

Spring 2015 Newsletter contents: Demystifying Green Infrastructure report urges property industry to take lead in protecting natural environment, Suffolk Planning & Biodiversity seminar November 2014, The Value of the Natural Environment Conference, SBP’s Gateway to Priority (BAP) species in Suffolk - update, People, Politics and the Planet debate, Building development creates the majority of bat crimes, Infrastructure Act implemented, Environmental Management Guidance live on Gov.UK, Biodiversity Auditing POSTNote 49, National Pollinator Strategy, Permitted Development Rights, Government Planning Update March 2015, Priority Species focus, 

View Issue 3 Oct 2014 newsletter

Feb 2014 newsletter contents: Workshop - Delivering the British Standard for Biodiversity & development; Report on Ecological Competency and capacity in LPAs, Brownfield hub launched, New licensing process to be extended to cover bats and dormice, Natural England link to SBP's guidance on bats and small turbines.

View Issue 2 Feb 2014 newsletter

The first newsletter (October 2013) contains useful and interesting news for planners including:

  • Date of the 2013 Norfolk and Suffolk Planning and Biodiversity seminar
  • Draft National Planning Practice Guidance
  • Link to the updated Validation checklist
  • Bats and Breathable Membranes
  • New British Standard for Biodiversity 
  • information about the Association of Local Government Ecologists

View Issue 1 Oct 2013 newsletter

What's that Designation?

A glossary of designations with links to further info

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

UK designation. The statutory nature conservation agencies have a duty under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended, to notify any area of land which in their opinion is 'of special interest by reason of any of its flora, fauna, or geological or physiographical features'. Find out more at JNCC

Special Protection Area (SPA)

European designation. SPAs are strictly protected sites classified under the EC Birds Directive (1979.) They are classified for rare and vulnerable birds (listed on Annex I of the Directive), and for regularly occurring migratory species.

Ramsar Site

International designation. Ramsar sites are wetlands of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (established in Ramsar, Iran, 1971).  Find out more at JNCC 

Special Area of Conservation (SAC)

European designation.SACs are strictly protected sites designated under the EC Habitats Directive. Article 3 of the Habitats Directive requires the establishment of a European network of important high-quality conservation sites that will make a significant contribution to conserving the 189 habitat types and 788 species identified in Annexes I and II of the Directive (as amended). The listed habitat types and species are those considered to be most in need of conservation at a European level (excluding birds). Of the Annex I habitat types, 78 are believed to occur in the UK. Of the Annex II species, 43 are native to, and normally resident in, the UK. Find out more at JNCC

County Wildlife Site (CWS)

Local, non-statuory designation. CWSs recognise the high value of a site for wildlife. The 900 + CWSs in Suffolk play a key role in the county's conservation of biodiversity, totalling 19,200 ha and covering 5% of the county. Many sites are of county, and often regional or national, importance. CWSs may be privately or publicly owned and vary in size and shape including small meadows, green lanes, dykes, hedges, ancient woodlands, heathland, green, commons and marsh. Find out more.