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Planning and Biodiversity Seminar 2019

14 November 2019, University of Suffolk, Ipswich

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)

Click on an image to open or download the presentation slides

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Presentation 9 Presentation 9
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Presentation summaries

1: Update on key national issues

Sue Hooton, Association of Local Government Ecologists

An update on national initiatives related to biodiversity and planning, covering both development management and policy planners. These include what we hope will be included in the Environment Bill: an online Wildlife Assessment Check tool to support applicants, an update on Habitats Regulations Assessments, changes in how Protected Species should be considered in the planning process and a planned pilot for a new checklist for ecological assessment supported by RTPI South East region, CIEEM and ALGE. And a plug for ALGE membership…. which is open to officers in LAs & National Parks where a key part of their job description is delivery of biodiversity or nature conservation for £90pa. For more information visit

2: Regional update on initiatives related to biodiversity and planning

Gen Broad, Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service

An update on regional issues related to biodiversity in development management and spatial strategy. These include the status of biodiversity validation requirements checklists, ecological networks and Recreational Disturbance Avoidance Mitigation Strategies (RAMS) in Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk.

3: The principles of Biodiversity Net Gain in Rivers and Streams

Sarah Scott, Environment Agency

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is a development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before. The 25 Year Environment Plan commits to embedding a principle of Environmental Net Gain at the heart of the planning system. The first step in working towards this is establishing a requirement for BNG, as the evidence and tools to support this are more developed. The upcoming Environment Bill will include a provision for mandating BNG for developments that fall under the Town and Country Planning Act. Here we discuss how Rivers and Streams are considered within BNG, and the opportunities it creates for river restoration.

4: Suffolk Ecological Network Project

Martin Sanford, Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service

SBIS is looking to create a range of tools that could be used in GIS systems to look at Ecological Networks. We want to ensure that products are fit-for-purpose, scalable for individual landowners, parishes, neighbourhood plans as well as district and county-level strategic planning. We will look at the available data, methodologies for mapping networks and ways to distribute this information in formats that suit the end-users.

5: District Level Licensing for Great Crested Newts: An Update

Gareth Dalglish, Natural England

An update on the District Level Licensing programme in England, with a look at how the project has evolved since 2017, how it is working in Kent and Cheshire, the plans for habitat creation and the rollout in East Anglia this year.

6: Otters and Planning

Simone Bullion, Suffolk Wildlife Trust (this presentation is not available online)

Otters almost reached the brink of extinction in the 1970s and 1980s. The recovery of populations in East Anglia is derived from captive-bred animals in the 1980s and 1990s, undertaken by The Otter Trust, whose headquarters were based near Bungay. Otters are now found on all rivers in Suffolk and although they are rarely seen, their distinctive field signs make them relatively easy to survey.

Otters are fully protected under both European and UK law. As a wide-ranging species, it is not always straightforward to be able to assess the impact of development upon them. This presentation will briefly cover otter ecology and then review the likely planning situations where the presence of otters needs to be taken into consideration.

7: Planning a Future Landscape with Water Voles

Darren Tansley, UK Water Vole Steering Group

Darren Tansley looks at the current status of water voles in the UK and the Eastern Region and the mitigation options for the species during a 10 year period when there has been a further 30% decline in water vole distribution nationally. Why is the current system still failing this iconic species when there has never been so much conservation work employed to protect them? Can wildlife NGOs assist planners to look beyond short term, small scale planning proposals to a more connected landscape that can support both water voles during a period of unparalleled development pressure?

8: Bats and Watercourses (includes notes)

Jan Collins, Bat Conservation Trust

Focussing on the importance of waterways for bats: for roosting in bridges, bankside trees and buildings; for foraging over the water and amongst bankside vegetation; and for commuting along these interconnected flyways. It covers the use of waterways by Daubenton’s bat, otherwise known as the ‘Water Bat’, which specialises in foraging over water. Jan will cover the potential impacts of development on bats using waterways, with a focus on foraging and commuting bats and impacts such as lighting and loss of connectivity. Finally, Jan will cover ways in which local planning authorities can contribute to bat conservation and meet legal and policy obligations by ensuring that development projects take account of bats. This includes requiring developers to carry out appropriate bat survey work (to accepted standards) to inform impact avoidance, mitigation, compensation and enhancement measures. Development projects should aim to retain roosts (or, as a last resort, replace them); minimise disturbance to bats particularly at sensitive times of year such as the summer breeding and winter hibernation periods; retain areas of open, flat water for foraging; retain or plant waterside vegetation; and ensure that lighting schemes are sensitive to bats.

9: Innovative Wetlands: the Ingol Case Study and Planning for the Future

David Diggens, Norfolk Rivers Trust

Covering wetlands, national-level initiatives, best practices and biodiversity. There is a focus on the development of The Integrated Constructed Wetland concept as that is the springboard for natural wastewater treatment solutions. He will also comment on the planning system and give some simple solutions.

10: An overview of the engineering and biodiversity of the SuDS at Bramford

Emma Browning & Michael Hotze, Scottish Power Renewables

The presentation will introduce the East Anglia One Offshore Windfarm and the spatial footprint of the onshore substation at Bramford. It will mainly focus on the design and construction of the permanent SUDS arrangement which aims to contribute toward Biodiversity Net Gain in the immediate vicinity through the implementation of a detailed drainage and landscape plan. The SUDS pond is currently fully constructed and, although the landscaping has not yet started, it is already starting to attract wildlife.

Useful links

Wildlife Assessment Check (National Update)

Modular River Survey citizen science project which categorises rivers

CIEEM webinars on District Level GCN Licencing on YouTube