RAUK - Archived Forum - A Planning Authorities Response

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A Planning Authorities Response:

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Herpetologic
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Joined: 02 Sep 2003
No. of posts: 35


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Posted: 09 Oct 2003

Hello Everyone

I didnt know where this could go on the forum but I thought that herpers need to see a response from a planning authority in Essex to the suggestion that protected species should be surveyed before planning permission is granted (against English Natures Advice)

I refer to the application concerning the above.

'As a result of some of the representations received including your own,
Members decided to defer the application so that further survey work could
be undertaken in order to establish whether there are species on the site
that require protection or special measures to be taken.  I would be
grateful to receive your advice on what types of survey should be
undertaken, especially what species should be covered, how many visits to
the site would be required and over what period of time.  Also it would be
useful to have your advice on whether there is a specific time of year that
surveying would have to occur in order for the surveys to provide meaningful
information.

I would also be grateful for your advice as to whether you would wish to
amend your 'holding objection' to one of refusal if such surveys are not
carried out AND would be willing to provide evidence to support your
recommendation by appearing at an appeal if necessary.  If so and if Members
follow your advice, it may well be that the issue of nature
conservation/biodiversity would be the only reason for refusal of the
application.  As you may be aware if a local planning authority is found to
have acted unreasonably by refusing an application without good evidence
then an award of costs may be made against them by an appeal inspector.  You
may know that English Nature was content with the officer recommendation to
approve the application and therefore to act against that advice would
require substantial justification.  I therefore would like to receive your
advice about whether you would be willing to make a contribution to any
award of costs which may be made against the Council if it follows your
advice and refuses the application.

The matter is likely to be considered again at the next meeting of the
Development Control Committee on 13 October 2003.  I would appreciate
receiving your comments by then.'

Yes this looks like a threat that the Essex ARG may be liable for costs if the council refuses the application because the applicant havent provided the ecological information needed to determine the application.

What do other people think of this? Should Protected species be relegated to being 'dealt with' as part of the many planning conditions?

regards



 


calumma
Senior Member
Joined: 27 Jun 2003
No. of posts: 351


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Posted: 09 Oct 2003
Jon,

Planning Policy Guideline 9 (PPG9) provides guidance to local planning authorities when considering nature conservation interest:

˘the presence of a protected species is a material consideration when a local planning authority is considering a development proposal which, if carried out, would be likely to result in harm to the species or habitat.÷

If local planning authorities do decide, after due consideration, to grant planning consent PPG9 advises:

˘The local planning authority should consider attaching appropriate planning conditions or entering into planning obligations under which the developer would take steps to secure the protection of the species.÷

My interpretation of PPG9 is that SURVEY data must be available to a local authority before it can even consider granting planning consent. MITIGATION work could then be attached as a condition, as appropriate.

If survey work is relegated to a condition (or worst still 'advisory' *shudder*) how can protected species be a material consideration?

Leecalumma37903.993599537
Lee Brady
Kent Herpetofauna Recorder | Independent Ecological Consultant

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Martin
Senior Member
Joined: 23 Feb 2003
No. of posts: 87


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Posted: 10 Oct 2003
I feel that the bottom line as ever is to support Government housing figures and take the development as a priority with wildlife as an incidental that now needs the barest minimum as the max. Sadly the statutory body appears to be in an era of compromise and perhaps daren't go against the development! After all they and the development control/planning departments are all paid from the same source aren't they?! I used to believe that you could change situations of development and wildlife, I'm not so sure any more as no-one wishes to be hit with legal costs do they? The system is now planned through so that the development, and satisfaction of central issued housing figures, takes full priority.
Good luck.
Martin.
PS I'd still like to know how cats fit into any equation these days? (Too many times I've seen development go ahead with buffer zones and areas left that within a few years have no wildlife value due to cats hunting and continual dog disturbance.)
calumma
Senior Member
Joined: 27 Jun 2003
No. of posts: 351


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Posted: 10 Oct 2003
Martin,

I think that the cat issue deserves a separate thread. Nowadays I refuse to allow my clients to simply create 'buffer zones' that animals can be moved into. I always ask what planning controls they will implement to prevent people letting cats hunt the area, the answer is always the same...

Lee
Lee Brady
Kent Herpetofauna Recorder | Independent Ecological Consultant

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David Bird
Forum Specialist
Joined: 17 Feb 2003
No. of posts: 515


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Posted: 10 Oct 2003
Could this be anything to do with the discussion paper that was on the DEFRA site last year when licensing for protected species is supposed to be being transferred to the local planning authority and away from DEFRA. As far as I could make out this would put the onus on the local planners to know about the status of protected species before they grant any planning permission. I only found out about the discussion paper a couple of days before the final date, it was quite large and the next time I went to the site it had been removed so if any one else knows anything more about it could they enlighten the forum please.
British Herpetological Society Librarian and member of B.H.S Conservation Committee. Self employed Herpetological Consultant and Field Worker.
calumma
Senior Member
Joined: 27 Jun 2003
No. of posts: 351


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Posted: 10 Oct 2003
David, although the issues are related the issue of protected species as a material planning consideration is already highlighted under PPG9. Local authorities should already be taking protected species into account before granting planning consent. Unfortunately few do. If you look on an outline planning application form you will see tick boxes for issues such as TPOs and archaeology (don't get me started on that one ). Alas there are few if any LAs with a tick box asking if there are protected species on the site.

The DEFRA document you mention refers only to species for which mitigation requires a license (i.e. not the widespread reptiles).

Lee
Lee Brady
Kent Herpetofauna Recorder | Independent Ecological Consultant

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Herpetologic
Member
Joined: 02 Sep 2003
No. of posts: 35


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Posted: 10 Oct 2003

I feel that there needs to be a consistent policy on Protected species and Ecological surveys for planning permissions.

Local Authorities do not always have the relevant experience on protected species especially GCN's and other European Protected species.

All protected species are a material consideration within a planning application. The presence of fully protected species (especially GCN's) should be part of the Town and Country Planning act along the same lines as Archeaological investigations and Building regs.

The Great Crested Newt Mitigaiton Guidelines I think were published to give guidence to local Authorities and all the players involved (LA, EN, other conservation bodies). Wouldnt the same exercise be a good idea for the 'widespread' reptiles. There are two documents that relate to Reptile Surveys and Mitigation the HGBI guidance and the Froglife reptile Survey Advice sheet 10 surely thera is a need for a planning document for planners regarding reptiles and their conservation?

Yet there is remarkable inconsistency between Local Authorities and even Local English Nature Teams in what they understand should be requested and when, For instance in a planning application protected species should be surveyed before planning permission is granted!!! and not 'dealt with' by a planning condition.

I use the quote of 'dealt with' as that was what an English Nature team told me about the presence of Reptiles and Amphibians within an important wildlife site. The use of translocation can be used on these species so they are not focussed on despite the use of an in situ conservation measure may help the rare 'unprotected' species. By providing habitats for conserved reptiles this habitat would be available to the other rare species on the site.

Regards

 

 


Herpetologic
Member
Joined: 02 Sep 2003
No. of posts: 35


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Posted: 10 Oct 2003

 

Well cats do have an dramatic effect on reptiles placed into small habitats etc. but I have found that Slowworms, Grass snakes and in some cases V lizards live in close proximity to Urban areas and with large cat populations bu tthe animals are still doing well.

Its like the argument that natural predators should be culled to protect rare species ie foxes on ground nesting birds or species should be removed ie Grass snakes from garden ponds (eating frogs) or putting up bamboo stakes to stop sparrow hawks eating sparrows and starlings on bird tables etc etc

Lizards I feel ar emost prone to cat predation yet i stil find these animals in large populations within residential areas - the key maybe down to the habitat suitability (compensates for the losses to cats and other predators)

I have recently rescued 60 slowworms and 2 grass snakes from a damaged garden area where a few houses are going to be built. At first i was told to translocate the animals but I created habitats around the edge of the site enclosed in with a reptile fence to help keep these animals on site while the new houses and gardens are built. The grass snakes are long gone (though I hope they breed in the many compost heaps in the area) The Slowworms are doing okay in their 'raised flowerbed hibernaculum', surrounding compost heaps and hedges.

There are lots of cats in this area and I am confident that the slowworms will survive here as they have over the last 30 to 40 years.

Regards

 

 

 

 


calumma
Senior Member
Joined: 27 Jun 2003
No. of posts: 351


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Posted: 10 Oct 2003
Jon. I agree that it is the lizards that probably suffer most due to cat predation. I have also found high densities of lizard and slow-worm in relatively small habitat areas surrounded by development. However, habitat conditions in such areas are exceptionally good (I have also found dead animals that appear to have been killed by cats). I often receive reports of lizard, slow-worm, grass snake and even adder that have been captured by cats.

I think the problem is that cats occur at unnaturally high densities and represent one more factor impacting on reptile populations. Constant cat predation (particularly of lizards) may be sufficient to tip the balance and contribute towards extinction at the site level (particularly in fragmented habitat areas).

This report by the Mammal Trust makes interesting reading. Note that predation of herpetofauna is greater if cats are *not* allowed out at night (Fig 6). Measures to protect birds and mammals against cat predation may therefore result in increased predation of herpetofauna!


Lee

Gemma: direct file upload button seems to be missing from this forum.calumma37904.551400463
Lee Brady
Kent Herpetofauna Recorder | Independent Ecological Consultant

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GemmaJF
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Joined: 25 Jan 2003
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Posted: 10 Oct 2003
File upload enabled Lee, sorry overlooked that when created new forum
Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
Jim Foster
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Joined: 24 Jul 2003
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Posted: 10 Oct 2003

As a general response the above concerns, English Nature is well aware of the problems surrounding planning applications and the requirement for information on protected species. Last year we commissioned an investigation of this, and the resulting report - entitled "Development control, local authorities and protected species" - can be viewed here:

http://www.english-nature.org.uk/pubs/publication/PDF/479.pdf

This demonstrates that there is a wide range of approaches to protected species among planning authorities. There are some interesting (occasionally rather worrying) figures in here about how protected species issues are handled. The contract also identified some examples of good practice, as there are some LPA ecologists working very hard on these issues.

We are currently working on some high-level (not species-specific) guidance on protected species, aimed at planning authorities, which should help to iron out some of the problems. It is my intention also to provide some specific advice on reptiles, but this will have to wait until some other work areas are progressed.

Also note that PPG9 is currently being revised.

Jim


Jim Foster. Reptile & amphibian specialist, Natural England.
calumma
Senior Member
Joined: 27 Jun 2003
No. of posts: 351


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Posted: 10 Oct 2003
The PPG9 Revision is promised by the end of the year I believe...

Thanks for the link to the publication Jim, interesting reading. I particularly like the following statements:

"... the principal of pre-determination surveys should become more firmly established".

"... a more structured and consistent approach to dealing with protected species in development control is likely to lead to financial and time savings for both applicant and local authority, as well as better conservation of protected species and their habitats."

Lee
Lee Brady
Kent Herpetofauna Recorder | Independent Ecological Consultant

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- A Planning Authorities Response

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