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Planning and Biodiversity Seminar 2015

27 November 2015, West Suffolk House, Bury St Edmunds

What the delegates said:

  • Fantastic enthusiasm (speakers)
  • Most speakers very engaging
  • Brilliant, many thanks!
  • Impressed with the quality of content and speakers

Click on an image below to open or download the presentations

Presentation 1 Presentation 1
Presentation 2 Presentation 2
Presentation 3 Presentation 3
Presentation 4 Presentation 4
Presentation 5 Presentation 5
Presentation 6 Presentation 6
Presentation 7 Presentation 7


Presentation summaries

1: Update on key national issues

Mike Oxford, ALGE

Mike's talk concentrates on the content and format of ecological information that is necessary to enable local planning authorities to reach an effective and lawful decision when considering biodiversity issues. Mike explores the issues that an LPA should consider when making a decision over a planning application, and how they can ensure that they have adequate information to do this. And he examines the role of consultees in the process and how further necessary key information can be identified and provided once the application has been registered.

To give emphasis to the need for adequate ecological information, Mike highlights the problems that are likely to emerge at various stages of the planning process when 'certainty' is not provided by the applicant (and/or their ecological consultant). Furthermore, equally important to the information it receives, is the information that emerges from the LPA through the determination process. This sets the scene for how development is actually implemented on the ground; consequently, it is vital that information 'controlling and guiding' development (once consent has been granted) is fit for purpose and likely to lead to effective outcomes for biodiversity conservation.

2: Wildlife crime: what do planners need to know?

Chief Inspector Martin Sims, National Wildlife Crime Unit and Paul Cantwell, Natural England Wildlife Enforcement

The NWCU mission statement is: “NWCU will contribute to the prevention and detection of crime by supporting UK wildlife crime enforcement. It will do this by providing a centralised capacity for intelligence collection and analysis and the delivery of professional practice in relation to wildlife crime.”

Martin gives an overview of the work of the NWCU and discusses the UK wildlife crime priorities. He will say how Police Wildlife Crime Officers (WCO’s) and staff from his Unit interact with the planning system in relation to protected species and what the main species encountered in this context are. He discusses the role of the Police in wildlife crime cases and the duties and obligations of planning officers and elected members in determining planning applications with regard to protected species.

Paul will give an overview of NE’s enforcement responsibilities, the sanctions it has available to it, and how it deals with reports of species offences. He will also cover how NE works with the Police and Crown Prosecution Service and what else they do in relation to wildlife crime.

3: Natural England licensing update

Graham Irving, Natural England

Natural England completed a Low Impact Bat Class Licence trial during the summer of 2014 testing a streamlined licensing process that permitted works that had low impacts on certain bat species and certain roost types but which still needed to be licensed in order to meet legal requirements. This trial Class Licence successfully reduced the burden on the customer and on Natural England for a significant number of low impact type cases, by reducing the application paperwork, scrutiny of the three tests prior to a licence being granted and speed in which a licence decision was determined. It also enabled a more proportionate approach to licensing to be taken for certain case types. This presentation will provide an update on the take up of this new licence by ecologists and will run through both the application process for ecologists to register to become a class licence user and the situations in which the licence can be used.

4: Swift nest boxes: how planners can build in success

Edward Mayer, Swift Conservation

Swifts have been in sharp decline for a number of years now, and seeing their wonderful screaming parties rocketing above our heads is getting rarer all the time. Edward Mayer, founder of Swift Conservation, will tell us something about Swifts, analyse the reasons for their decline, and show us how we can easily and cheaply retain and even augment their populations within our built environment. Swifts bring us tangible benefits, something that is often overlooked in the race to redevelop our cities and towns, but keeping them with us will help us all live better lives.

5: Norfolk Recreation Project – determining visitor patterns across Natura 2000 sites in Norfolk

Anne Casey, Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership

Norfolk has a wide range of Natura 2000 sites ranging from large areas of the North Norfolk Coast to small patches protecting the headwaters of valley fens. Each local authority is at a different stage of Local Plan development and have differing levels of information on visitor use and impacts of these sites. Under the Duty to Cooperate all the local authorities have agreed to support a study across the whole of Norfolk to gather visitor information and gain a better understanding of visitor patterns. The Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership is managing the project on behalf of the partners. The presentation gives an overview of how the study came about, how sites were chosen and the results to date.

6: Developing a Biodiversity Checking Service for Planning Applications

Sue Hooton, Suffolk County Council

This session introduces the concept of a Biodiversity Checking Service for low-risk developments to bridge the gap between pre-App advice and submission of adequate biodiversity data with planning applications. The service (funded by applicants) would assess the quality of the biodiversity survey and assessment and deliverability of mitigation measures before submission. If the quality and deliverability are sufficient for determination, a Certificate of Biodiversity Mitigation would be issued to the applicant for submission to the Local Planning Authority. The advantage for applicants and their consultants, planners and consultees would be that they get certainty and delays would be avoided. Following the presentation, we will break out into groups to discuss 3 questions for feedback to everyone.

7: Connecting Nature Fund: bio-offsetting in Norfolk

Heidi Thompson, Norfolk Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group

The Connecting Nature Fund (CNF) takes money from development and spends it on farmland on work to enhance biodiversity. The scheme is effectively a fledgeling biodiversity offsetting scheme for Norfolk. She discusses why this scheme is necessary and explores ways to grow the CNF so that it starts to make a significant contribution to landscape-scale change. Norfolk FWAG is a registered charity that gives environmental advice to farmers and landowners across Norfolk.

8: Broxted Solar Farm Monitoring: a case study

Simone Bullion, Suffolk Wildlife Trust

In late 2012, planning consent was granted for a 35MW solar farm on the former Stradishall Airfield, which is now part of the Broxted Estate. Part of the site is designated as a County Wildlife Site, primarily for its flora and bird species. A long term management plan/environmental strategy was a condition of planning consent. This requires measures to establish compensatory habitat and monitoring of key ecological groups, including botanical, breeding birds and wintering birds. This talk describes the project and the monitoring work to date.

(This presentation is not available to download. Please contact Simone Bullion at Suffolk Wildlife Trust for further information [email protected])