Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028

Biodiversity and New Development

12.44 National policy[1] promotes sustainable development whilst conserving and enhancing biodiversity. Plan policies should take a strategic approach to the conservation, enhancement and restoration of biodiversity and geology by sustaining and where possible improving the quality and extent of natural habitat and the populations of naturally occurring species which they support. This should be based on up to date information of resources in the area and should promote opportunities within the design of the proposal for the incorporation of beneficial biodiversity and geological interests.

12.45 The District Council recognises the value of our natural assets and has been working with Somerset County Council, the District/Borough Councils, Somerset Wildlife Trust, Natural England, RSPB and other conservation agencies as part of the Somerset Biodiversity Partnership to identify species[2] and habitats that are important in Somerset and to draw up plans to assist in their conservation.

12.46 'Wild Somerset' is the Strategy that covers the whole area of Somerset and describes how the partnership will work together and involve local communities and other agencies in activities to protect and enhance wildlife. In addition to the habitats and species covered in the Countywide Wild Somerset Strategy, the South Somerset Local Biodiversity Action Plan describes the actions that the District and other partners will take locally to protect and enhance wildlife in the District.[3] All proposals should consider protection and enhancement of biodiversity from the outset and have regard to Local and Regional Biodiversity Strategies, taking into consideration the findings as identified in 'The Distribution of European Protected Species in South Somerset' and 'European Protected Species in South Somerset'.[4] Priority Species are defined in Section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act and in Somerset Priority Species List, and are to be protected from the adverse implications of new development. The Brackets Coppice Special Conservation Area near Crewkerne merits particular consideration of its resident bat population and their foraging area in consideration of local biodiversity in that area. The implications for bats of lighting associated with development will need to be borne in mind when determining planning applications.

12.47 There are significant consequences for the long-term protection and adaptability of biodiversity and the ability of wildlife and habitats to respond to climate change. There is a need to expand and re-connect the existing areas and restore habitats where they have been destroyed. Development proposals should be accompanied by sufficient information to assess the effects of development on protected sites, species, biodiversity or geology, together with any proposed prevention, mitigation or compensation measures.  They will need to demonstrate that they will not adversely impact nationally and internationally designated sites.

Policy EQ4: Biodiversity

All proposals for development, including those which would affect sites of regional and local biodiversity, nationally and internationally protected sites and sites of geological interest, will:

  • Protect the biodiversity value of land and buildings and minimise fragmentation of habitats and promote coherent ecological networks;
  • Maximise opportunities for restoration, enhancement and connection of natural habitats;
  • Incorporate beneficial biodiversity conservation features where appropriate;
  • Protect and assist recovery of identified priority species; and
  • Ensure that Habitat Features, Priority Habitats and Geological Features that are used by bats and other wildlife are protected and that the design including proposals for lighting does not cause severance or is a barrier to movement.
Where there is a reasonable likelihood of the presence of protected species development design should be informed by, and applications should be accompanied by, a survey and impact assessment assessing their presence. If present, a sequential approach to the design of the proposal should be taken that aims first to avoid harm, then to lessen the impact, and lastly makes compensatory provision for their needs.
Development will not be allowed to proceed unless it can be demonstrated that it will not result in any adverse impact on the integrity of national and international wildlife and landscape designations, including features outside the site boundaries that ecologically support the conservation of the designated site.

12.48 It is anticipated that the forthcoming Green Infrastructure Strategy is relevant and will contribute to the protection and enhancement of areas of biodiversity importance and therefore support delivery of the policy objectives.

12.49 The following delivery bodies will be key in implementing Policy EQ4:

  • South Somerset District Council;
  • Developers and Landowners;
  • Natural England.
Monitoring Indicators Target
Changes in areas of biodiversity importance There should be no net losses of biodiversity habitat areas due to development
1. NPPF March 2012 [back]
2. Somerset Priority Species List [back]
3. South West Nature Map (evidence for RSS) is also useful [back]
4. Produced by Somerset County Council, 2009 [back]