The Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning has been busy over the
last year, seeking to encourage greater protection and enhancement of
biodiversity through planning and development.
We celebrated the launch of the Wildlife Assessment Check (WAC)
– our free pre-planning tool for smaller developers – with a
in Planning’ exhibit at the House of Commons in July. The
exhibit was introduced by Helen Hays MP and Sir Oliver Letwin MP, who
highlighted the importance of cross-party support for the UK's wildlife.
We promoted the WAC at numerous national events and workshops,
including at the London Borough of Newham, who invited us to give a
presentation to their planning team about the WAC tool. They commented that:
Newham receive over 4,000 planning applications a year. Only
around five of those applications are larger developments which
have to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment and ecological
appraisal. The remaining 3,995 are smaller applications who may be
less aware of their biodiversity obligations and would benefit
from the WAC and the guidance it provides.
Along with the national planning portal
, around 20 local authorities already promote the WAC on their
websites and we encourage more will do so, to help householders and
smaller developers positively incorporate biodiversity into their proposals.
Behind the scenes, the Wildlife Assessment Check tool contains a
series of Species Guidance Notes
, which provides developers with further advice about legal
protections, licencing, surveying, mitigating, and habitat enhancement
for specific species. We have also produced a range of
practice case studies and two new guidance documents.
First, a new guide for planners with the RTPI; ‘Biodiversity
in planning: obligations and opportunities to promote biodiversity
through the UK planning system’ outlines key
legislation that planners need to address and a range of ways to
better integrate biodiversity into local planning policy, with various
case study examples from around the country. It aims to smooth out the
planning application process for both developers and local authorities
by encouraging an early appraisal of ecological impacts of
development. Second is a guide for ecology consultants; ‘Biodiversity
data search: guidance for ecological consultants’. It
offers guidance on conducting, interpreting and reporting on
biodiversity data searches (BDS) – or desk-based research – required
for proposed developments on land. The guidance aims to improve the
way that biodiversity data is collected and interpreted by ecological
consultants to inform planning decisions.
2020 is looking to be an exciting but challenging year. The nations
of the world will be meeting in China for the fifteenth United Nations
Convention on Biological Diversity. They will be discussing the global
biodiversity framework – creating a new 2050 vision for living
in harmony with nature.
The new UK government and all of us will need to work hard to ensure
we can reverse the biodiversity decline experienced in our own
country, as the 2019 State
report outlined. Commitments, including the proposed Biodiversity
requirement for new developments, offer us opportunities to
create new communities and enhance existing ones that work
more harmoniously with nature. We must work together to make it a reality!
The Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning project would like to
wish you all a wild and wonderful 2020!