Biodiversity in Planning is a partnership of 19 organisations representing the conservation, planning and development sectors, who are working together to simplify, streamline and improve the consideration of biodiversity in the UK planning process.
The partnership aims to provide resources to help consider protected and priority species earlier in the UK planning process and encourage building projects to deliver a net gain in biodiversity. This includes an innovative web-based planning tool – the Wildlife Assessment Check – that offers householders and small to medium scale developers a simple check to see whether a potential development project requires expert ecological advice.
Constrained planning capacity
It is a statutory duty for all public authorities to have regard for biodiversity conservation. The planning system offers an opportunity to reverse biodiversity loss through promoting wildlife conservation and restoration. However, only one third of local authorities have an in-house ecology officer (ALGE, 2013) requiring external consultants or non-expert planners to assess the many thousands of planning applications received.
Small-scale developers are often unaware that their planning applications are incomplete because they have not sought expert ecological advice as a part of their application. This can result in delays and additional knock-on costs, such as when unforeseen ecological surveys have to be carried out during particular seasons.
Benefits of the partnership
Through producing tools and resources like the Wildlife Assessment Check the partnership aims to streamline the inclusion of biodiversity in the planning process by considering potential ecological impacts earlier into the process, before a planning application is submitted. This will benefit various actors:
- Householders and small developers: helping raise awareness about the need to assess potential wildlife impacts from development projects early in the planning process, reducing the risk of unplanned for delays.
- Local planning authorities: improving the applications being submitted to local authorities and support authorities in achieving their planning obligations and statutory duties relating to protected and priority habitats and species.
- Ecological consultants: pointing householders and developers towards expert ecological advice and helping to reverse the loss of species and habitats by encouraging people to take greater account of wildlife in development projects.
Read about those organisations involved in this project, many of which are also members of the NBN.