Planning and the law
Why consider protected species during land use planning processes?
The conservation of bats within the built environment is reliant on the delivery of a number of factors:
- the provision of roosting opportunities;
- the availability of foraging and commuting habitat; and
- the appropriate management / protection of existing roosts and areas.
Legislation dictates that any structures or place which a bats use for shelter or protection are protected from damage or destruction whether occupied or not. This legislation has been incorporated into planning policies. This means that planning authorities have a legal obligation to consider whether bats are likely to be affected by a proposed development.
How does this relate to day to day planning?
- If a bat survey has not already been undertaken to determine the potential for bats on site, and or the presence of bats:
- The authority should request that the developers commission an appropriate survey
- If a bat survey demonstrates that development is likely to affect bat foraging and/or commuting habitat:
- Linear features such as tree lines should be retained, and compensatory planting should be considered wherever possible.
- If a bat survey demonstrates that bats and/or a known roost are likely to be affected by the proposed development and planning permission is to be granted:
- A condition should be placed on the decision notice requiring the developer to apply for, and obtain, a European Protected Species Licence before work commences.
In instances where a planning authority has not done any what is outlined above, they could have failed their duties and you have a right to challenge them.
The British Standards Institution has published a code of practice for planning authorities on how they should address biodiversity in planning.
Applications that have been refused on nature conservation grounds:
- an appeal decision concerning bats in (BCT summary of the case) – planning permission revoked. The judgment clarifies for the first time the legal duty of a Local Planning Authority ("LPA"). Woolley v Cheshire East Borough Council - Approved Judgment full text
- an appeal decision concerning newts in 2005 - dismissed because insufficient information was supplied for the site. A survey was needed (but not supplied by the applicant) in order to assess the proposal's impact on newts
Specific planning policies in each country:
- In England - National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), references the ODPM Circular 06/2005 and its Guide to Good Practice
- In Wales - TAN5 Nature Conservation and Planning
- In Scotland - NPPG14 Natural Heritage and PAN60 Planning for Natural Heritage
- In Northern Ireland - PPS2 Planning and Nature Conservation