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.

East Anglian Planning and Biodiversity Seminar 2019

Thursday, 14th November 2019 University of Suffolk, Waterfront, Neptune Qay, Ipswich IP4 1QJ 

Organised by Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service, Norfolk County Council and Place Services Essex County Council in collaboration with the Association of Local Government Ecologists (ALGE)


  • To provide an overview of the latest national and county-led initiatives in planning and best practice related to spatial planning, development management and biodiversity.
  • To encourage an exchange of experience about biodiversity issues in planning amongst planners, consultees and ecological consultants in Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and neighbouring counties.

Seminar Chair: David White, Norfolk County Council

Topics and Speakers 

Biographies of the speakers and summaries of their presentations can be viewed here>  

Coverage by the East Anglian Daily Times >

The presentations are available below, just click on the title to view the presentation on ISSUU or download. These will be available as speakers give permission for their presentations to be made public.

Useful Links 

Wildlife Assessment Check (National Update) >

CIEEM webinars on District Level GCN Licencing on YouTube >  

Modular River Survey citizen science project which categorises rivers >


East Anglian Planning and Biodiversity Seminar 2018

Thursday, 22nd November 2018 University of Suffolk, Waterfront, Neptune Qay, Ipswich IP4 1QJ

Organised by Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service, Norfolk County Council and Place Services Essex County Council in collaboration with the Association of Local Government Ecologists (ALGE)

The seminar is a popular, and increasingly important, event as more and more homes are built in ever larger developments across our region. The event provides a valuable forum where those involved in the planning process, such as local authorities, wildlife charities and ecological consultants, are able to meet, exchange ideas and cooperate across the region. We were delighted to welcome more than 120 people this year. The varied presentations included practical actions for species, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), Suffolk Design Guide 2019, how green space impacts health and well-being and wildlife crime linked to developments. 

Read the East Anglian Daily Times article by Ross Bentley here > (ISSUU)
Read the East Anglian Daily Times article by Ross Bentley here>

Topics and Speakers 

Biographies of the speakers and summaries of their presentations can be viewed here>  (Please note that due to changes of speaker at short notice, some of the information may be missing)

The presentations are available below, just click on the title to view the presentation on ISSUU. Or you can click here > to see all the presentations, publicity and speaker biographies

Update on Key National Issues related to Biodiversity in Development Management and Spatial Planning - Mike Oxford, ALGE
Spatial Planning for Health: Green Infrastructure - Carl Petrokofsky, Public Health England
Planning for PollinatorsDavid Dowding, Buglife
Suffolk Design -  BiodiversityLindsey Wilkinson, Chartered Landscape Architect
Suffolk Design -  Biodiversity Phillip Isbell, Babergh and Mid Suffolk Councils 
Mitigation for stag beetles - the Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence Colin Hawes, Royal Holloway University of London 
Potential uses of existing bird survey data to facilitate planning decisions Gavin Siriwardena, British Trust for Ornithology 
People Over Wind case - implications for Development Control Decision Making Gareth Durrant, West Suffolk Council 
Wildlife Crime and Developments - Paul Cantwell, Suffolk and Essex Constabularies

East Anglian Planning & Biodiversity Seminar 2017 

Friday 24th November 2017 Thank you to East Suffolk Councils for hosting the event at their offices in Melton, Woodbridge, Suffolk

Topics and Speakers

Biographies of the speakers and summaries of their presentations can be seen here >

The presentations are available below, just click on the title to view the presentation on ISSUU.

The seminar was attended by 100 people involved in the planning process including local authorities, statutory bodies, wildlife organisations and professional ecologists. The range of topics meant there was something of interest for everyone and we are tremendously grateful to our excellent speakers who informed, inspired and entertained. Dusty Gedge gave a fine keynote presentation on Nature based solutions in the Urban Realm - Green Roofs and Rain Gardens. We hope to see many more developments incorporating green roofs as a result. The day also covered practical measures for dormice and farmland birds, great crested newt licensing, an overview of current key biodiversity issues in planning, an innovative RAMS strategy, Brexit and the environment and Biodiversity Net Gain. Thank you to all who contributed to, or participated in, an excellent day - we look forward to seeing you next year!

What participants said: 

  • Brilliant event
  • Really interesting presentations covering a wide range of topics
  • Many interesting topics and excellent speakers

View John Grant's article "Voices 'need to be heard' as our planning system is put under scrutiny" in the East Anglian Daily Times >

Suffolk Biodiversity Validation Checklist [Click here to download pdf]

Updated September 2019

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 [email protected]

View Issue 11 Spring 2020

Spring 2020 contents: East Anglian Planning and Biodiversity seminar 2019, Environment Bill update, Natural Capital tool launched by Defra, New licence to manage and control alien invasive species, Less than half of local sites in positive conservation management, UN publish draft plan to halt biodiversity crisis, Green Infrastructure Partnership, Potential restrictions for green walls, Healthy weight in women and green space, Derry and Strabane Green Infrastructure plan, Emergency tree plan the UK, Planning for green infrastructure, UK-wide: lottery fund for natural landscapes, Training - embedding the natural capital approach in planning and development, Raynsford review of planning, Garden cities - a guide for planners, Training - understanding the garden city approach, Priority Species focus - Shepherd's needle/

View Issue 10 Autumn 2019

Autumn 2019 contents: East Anglian Planning and Biodiversity seminar 2019, Simple SuDS Guidance, Suffolk RAMS published, Suffolk Biodiversity Validation Checklist updated, TCPA supports Green Infrastructure, Nature can help people's health in urban areas, Green Infrastructure explained in planning guidance, Can parks help cities fight crime? Green Infrastructure Partnership, Protected Species focus - Eurasian Otter

View Issue 9 Autumn 2018

Autumn 2018 contents: East Anglian Planning and Biodiversity seminar 2018, SusDrain Designers Hub, Brexit White Paper and the Environment, Defra publish 2018 update of UK Biodiversity Statistics, Green Infrastructure Resource Library, GI Partnership, Government Announces Strategy for New Generation of Garden Communities, Hear the Sound of the House Sparrow, ILP and Bat Conservation Trust Publish Guidance on Bats and Lighting, AONB Planning Event, Protected Species Focus - House Sparrow

View Issue 8 Spring 2018

Spring 2018 contents: East Anglian Planning and Biodiversity seminar 2017, UK and England Biodiversity Indicators updated, Bat Mitigation Case Studies Forum - Proceedings, Algorithm learns to understand natural beauty, Crime Conviction for Destroying Bat Roosts in Dorset, Essex Coast Recreational disturbance Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy (RAMS), SBIS Biodiversity Checking Service Pilot extended, A Vision for Housing and Nature, Suffolk Wildlife Trust Ecology Courses, Big Biodiversity Challenge for Construction Industry, Green Belt (Protection) Bill, Nature and Environmental Charities questioned on
25-year Plan for Environment, Protected Species focus - Hedgehog

View Issue 7 Summer 2017

Summer 2017 contents: East Anglian Planning and Biodiversity seminar 2017, free training available for Planning Authorities, Ipswich Wildlife Network, Urban Green Space and Health, MPs call for immediate release of 25-year plan  for nature, UK government publishes Brexit White Paper, District level licensing for Great Crested Newts, Community infrastructure levy review, Using the character of landscapes to inform planning decisions and Green Roofs and Living Walls, with the Protected Species focus on Great Crested Newts.

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

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.