National Planning and Policy Framework has quite extensive consideration of ecology and wildlife, including the need for a landscape scale approach to planning and for wildlife gain during development. We find it quite a big document to download, so the following are the relevant extracts from the National Planning and Policy Framework. We have added in titles for ease of navigation.
Circular 06/2005, which originally accompanied PPG9, is still in force and provides further guidance in respect of statutory obligations for biodiversity and geological conservation, and their impact within the planning system
Overview for natural environment
109. The planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by :
● protecting and enhancing valued landscapes, geological conservation interests and soils;
● recognising the wider benefits of ecosystem services;
● minimising impacts on biodiversity and providing net gains in biodiversity where possible, contributing to the Government’s commitment to halt the overall decline in biodiversity, including by establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures;
● preventing both new and existing development from contributing to or being put at unacceptable risk from, or being adversely affected by unacceptable levels of soil, air, water or noise pollution or land instability; and
● remediating and mitigating despoiled, degraded, derelict, contaminated and unstable land, where appropriate.
Minimising effects on the environment
110. In preparing plans to meet development needs, the aim should be to minimise pollution and other adverse effects on the local and natural environment. Plans should allocate land with the least environmental or amenity value, where consistent with other policies in this Framework.
Brownfield sites ( N.B. also sometimes a Section 41 habitat )
111. Planning policies and decisions should encourage the effective use of land by re-using land that has been previously developed (brownfield land), provided that it is not of high environmental value. Local planning authorities may continue to consider the case for setting a locally appropriate target for the use of brownfield land.
112. Local planning authorities should take into account the economic and other benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land. Where significant development of agricultural land is demonstrated to be necessary, local planning authorities should seek to use areas of poorer quality land in preference to that of a higher quality.
Criteria based approach for wildlife and other areas
113. Local planning authorities should set criteria based policies against which proposals for any development on or affecting protected wildlife or geodiversity sites or landscape areas will be judged. Distinctions should be made between the hierarchy of international, national and locally designated sites, so that protection is commensurate with their status and gives appropriate weight to their importance and the contribution that they make to wider ecological networks.
114. Local planning authorities should:
● set out a strategic approach in their Local Plans, planning positively for the
creation, protection, enhancement and management of networks of biodiversity and green infrastructure; and
● maintain the character of the undeveloped coast, protecting and enhancing its distinctive landscapes, particularly in areas defined as Heritage Coast, and improve public access to and enjoyment of the coast.
National parks and AONBs
115. Great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty. The conservation of wildlife and cultural heritage are important considerations in all these areas, and should be given great weight in National Parks and the Broads.
116. Planning permission should be refused for major developments in these
designated areas except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be
demonstrated they are in the public interest. Consideration of such
applications should include an assessment of:
● the need for the development, including in terms of any national
considerations, and the impact of permitting it, or refusing it, upon the
● the cost of, and scope for, developing elsewhere outside the designated
area, or meeting the need for it in some other way; and
● any detrimental effect on the environment, the landscape and recreational
opportunities, and the extent to which that could be moderated.
Planning for ecological networks and Section 41 habitats and species
117. To minimise impacts on biodiversity and geodiversity, planning policies
● plan for biodiversity at a landscape-scale across local authority boundaries;
● identify and map components of the local ecological networks, including
the hierarchy of international, national and locally designated sites of
importance for biodiversity, wildlife corridors and stepping stones that
connect them and areas identified by local partnerships for habitat
restoration or creation;
● promote the preservation, restoration and re-creation of priority habitats,
ecological networks and the protection and recovery of priority species
populations, linked to national and local targets, and identify suitable
indicators for monitoring biodiversity in the plan;
● aim to prevent harm to geological conservation interests; and
● where Nature Improvement Areas are identified in Local Plans, consider
specifying the types of development that may be appropriate in these
Decisions involving biodiversity
118. When determining planning applications, local planning authorities should
aim to conserve and enhance biodiversity by applying the following
● if significant harm resulting from a development cannot be avoided
(through locating on an alternative site with less harmful impacts),
adequately mitigated, or, as a last resort, compensated for, then planning
permission should be refused;
● proposed development on land within or outside a Site of Special Scientific
Interest likely to have an adverse effect on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (either individually or in combination with other developments) should not normally be permitted. Where an adverse effect on the site’s notified special interest features is likely, an exception should only be made where the benefits of the development, at this site, clearly outweigh both the impacts that it is likely to have on the features of the site that make it of special scientific interest and any broader impacts on the national
network of Sites of Special Scientific Interest;
● development proposals where the primary objective is to conserve or
enhance biodiversity should be permitted;
● opportunities to incorporate biodiversity in and around developments
should be encouraged;
● planning permission should be refused for development resulting in the
loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland
and the loss of aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland,
unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location
clearly outweigh the loss; and
● the following wildlife sites should be given the same protection as
– potential Special Protection Areas and possible Special Areas of
– listed or proposed Ramsar sites; and
– sites identified, or required, as compensatory measures for adverse
effects on European sites, potential Special Protection Areas, possible
Special Areas of Conservation, and listed or proposed Ramsar sites.
Removal of sustainable development presumption where HRA required
119. The presumption in favour of sustainable development (paragraph 14) does
not apply where development requiring appropriate assessment under the
Birds or Habitats Directives is being considered, planned or determined.