Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028

Biodiversity and climate change

12.21 The distribution of habitats and species will be affected by the changing climate, so it is important to ensure that this issue is addressed when considering proposals for new development. An example of delivering this is through the creation of new natural habitats around existing habitats, and linking such areas together, wherever possible. Policies EQ4: Biodiversity and EQ5: Green Infrastructure contain further detail on the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity, including the creation of such wildlife 'corridors'.

12.22 It is important to note that some measures to combat climate change can potentially have adverse effects on biodiversity. Bats, all of which are afforded protection at a European level, are vulnerable to mortality from incorrectly located wind turbines, such as those along flight lines, close to feeding areas or roost sites. It is expected that any proposal for wind turbines, including micro turbines, will be submitted with full survey data and assessment including for effects to populations of bats in order to ensure that the 'favourable conservation status' of European protected species is maintained.

Policy EQ1 Addressing Climate Change in South Somerset

The Council will support proposals for new development where they have demonstrated how climate change mitigation and adaptation will be delivered, through inclusion of the following measures (as appropriate).

  • New development will ensure that carbon dioxide emissions are minimised through energy efficiency measures, renewable and low carbon energy, and where necessary Allowable Solutions;
  • The following sustainable construction standards will be required, unless it is proven not to be feasible or viable:
    • Code for Sustainable Homes level 4 from 2013;
    • Code for Sustainable Homes level 5 from 2016;
    • BREEAM rating of ‘excellent’ for non-domestic buildings.
  • Development of renewable and low carbon energy generation will be encouraged and permitted, providing there are no significant adverse impacts upon residential and visual amenity, landscape character, designated heritage assets, and biodiversity. The presence of several airfields in South Somerset will mean the impacts of wind turbines upon electromagnetic interference and aviation radar will be a particular consideration;
  • Developers must demonstrate that proposed wind turbines do not pose a risk to bat populations, and will not pose a barrier risk to migratory bird species, in particular to birds moving from key sites such as the Severn Estuary;
  • Development will be directed away from medium and high flood risk areas through using South Somerset’s Strategic Flood Risk Assessment as the basis for applying the Sequential Test. The area of search to which the Sequential Test will apply will be South Somerset wide, unless adequately justified otherwise in relation to the circumstances of the proposal;
  • Where appropriate, the Exception Test can be applied if it is not possible to pass the Sequential Test, if this is consistent with wider sustainability objectives;
  • Development should reduce and manage the impact of flood risk by incorporating Sustainable Drainage Systems, and through appropriate layout, design, and choice of materials;
  • Climate change should be considered in the design of new development, incorporating measures such as solar orientation, maximising natural shade and cooling, water efficiency and flood resilience;
  • Susceptibility to climate change should be taken into account on all proposals to develop sites with biodiversity interest.

12.23 The following delivery bodies will be key in implementing Policy EQ1:

  • South Somerset District Council;
  • Developers and Landowners;
  • Environment Agency;
  • Ministry of Defence.
Monitoring Indicators Target
Renewable energy generation installed by capacity and type Increase in renewable energy generation installed capacity
Per capita reduction in CO2 emissions in South Somerset Reduce per capita CO2 emissions in South Somerset
CO2 emissions in South Somerset Reduce CO2 emissions in South Somerset
Number of planning permissions granted contrary to Environment Agency advice on flooding and water quality grounds No planning permissions should be granted where an Environment Agency objection cannot be overcome