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Planning and Biodiversity Seminar 2016

11 November 2016, West Suffolk House, Bury St Edmunds

What the delegates said:

  • Very insightful and knowledgeable presentations
  • Varied, covered wide range of subjects both policy and development management
  • Really good and interesting talks. Especially liked those with practical mitigation case studies/examples
  • The first section on planning and report quality was excellent – thank you


Click on an image to open or download the presentation slides

Presentation 1 Presentation 1
Presentation 2 Presentation 2
Presentation 3a Presentation 3a
Presentation 3b Presentation 3b
Presentation 3c Presentation 3c
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 addressed hopes and concerns over the Neighbourhood Planning Bill and the likely implications for the natural environment of proposed changes in pre-commencement conditions. He also outlined new Reporting Templates from CIEEM and ALGE for dealing with applications likely to have a low impact on biodiversity. He covered the value of Biodiversity Mitigation Method Statements and also how those scrutinising planning applications can systematically assess whether ecological information is adequate to determine an application.

2: Five things a Planner can do

Jaki Fisher, West Suffolk Council, James Meyer, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Lisa Chandler, East Suffolk Council

This short presentation demonstrated how every planner can make a contribution to protecting biodiversity in their ‘day job’. The talk highlighted five simple things to take into account when considering planning applications and making decisions.

3: What Good Mitigation Looks Like

3a. Hedgehogs

Ali North, Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Ali covered basic hedgehog ecology and how this makes them vulnerable in a development context. She then ran through simple measures to address these issues, appropriate to both Forward Planning and Development Control.

3b. Common Toads

Jim Foster, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust

Jim summarised how planning decisions can affect common toads both positively and negatively. He outlined key points for consideration in planning, including survey, impact assessment, mitigation design and incorporation in greenspace.

3c. Swifts

Edward Jackson, Suffolk Ornithologists Group

Edward gave a short update on what has been achieved with Swift conservation in Suffolk during the last year. Results from the Suffolk Swift Survey are now being forwarded to planners in Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service updates. How can these data best be used to safeguard existing nest sites and also create new ones using planning conditions?

4: Bridging the gap: Local authorities working together to protect barbastelle bats at a landscape scale

David White, Norfolk County Council

The talk demonstrated the synergies between the delivery of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road and the development of a Green Infrastructure Strategy and policies for the North-east Norwich Growth Triangle Area Action Plan, facilitating 13,500 new homes whilst ensuring the long-term viability of a nationally important Barbastelle Bat population.

5: Visitor Survey Results from Natura2000 sites in Norfolk

Durwyn Liley and Chris Panter, Footprint Ecology

Through 2015 and 2016, Footprint Ecology undertook visitor surveys across different European sites in Norfolk. The work, commissioned by the County Council on behalf of local authorities across Norfolk, compared visitor data across different parts of the county and predicted the changes in access likely to result from new housing in the current plan period.

6: The Biodiversity Duty

Mike Oxford, Association of Local Government Ecologists

Mike recapped what we mean by the ‘NERC Biodiversity Duty’ and now, after 11 years, examined how it is still being applied. Or has it become obsolete! He also reviewed some of the other biodiversity duties (and powers) that relate to local authorities and provided a personal perspective on what Brexit holds for the Habitats Directive and the future of biodiversity conservation in the UK. (See SBIS website for further information on the Biodiversity Duty)

7: Managing risks of development near European Sites – a quick & dirty guide to Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) requirements

Collins, Natural England and Sue Hooton, Suffolk County Council

HRA screening seeks to ascertain whether or not a proposal (either alone or in combination with other proposals) is likely to have a significant effect on a European Site. This quick and dirty guide aimed to answer what you wanted to ask about HRA but were afraid to ask! WHY is an HRA required? WHAT is involved in a screening exercise? WHAT is meant by Appropriate Assessment? WHAT is required for an HRA? HOW can likely impacts be assessed? WHAT is meant by ‘alone or in combination’? HOW can mitigation required by HRA be secured? WHO needs to be involved in preparing HRAs?