Devon County Council is required to protect and enhance wildlife habitats, species and geological sites through the planning process. Some habitats and species are protected through European or national legislation, others are protected through national and local policy. In Devon, examples of widespread protected species include bats, dormice, nesting birds and reptiles.
When should a wildlife report be submitted as part of a planning application?
All planning applications to DCC must be submitted with a wildlife and geology trigger table which helps both the developer and DCC to identify whether the proposal may impact on protected or priority habitats or species.
If there is a ‘yes’ in any column a wildlife and/or geology report must be produced by a qualified and suitably experienced ecological consultant and submitted with the application. The report should be commissioned at the start of the project and any project changes discussed with the consultant.
If the wildlife report indicates that detailed protected species surveys are required these must also be included as part of the wildlife report. The application cannot be validated without them. A guide on when to survey can be found here.
All details of avoidance, mitigation, compensation and enhancement actions must also be included with the application. It is very likely that any planning permission will be conditional on these being implemented.
What does the production of a wildlife report involve?
The ecological consultant will initially carry out a site walkover survey to identify known and potential impacts. This can usually be carried out at any time of year.
If potential impacts are identified, the ecologist may have to carry out further survey work, for example to clarify the impacts on dormice or bats. These detailed surveys will have to be carried out at certain times of year, which will vary from species to species. It is therefore important that surveys are timetabled into your project plan in order to avoid wasting time and money.
The length and scope of the wildlife report will vary and should be proportionate to the impacts and size of the project. The report may vary from a short statement (if there are no or minimal impacts) to a comprehensive report with detailed surveys.
If the proposed development is going to impact on a European Protected Species (such as bats, dormice, otters, great crested newts) you may need a licence from Natural England. Your ecological consultant will provide advice on this as it is separate to the planning process.
A guidance note for consultants has been produced as to what should be included in a wildlife report. All wildlife reports should also include a wildlife checklist.
Remember that you may need other licences or consents outside of the planning system.
Protected species guidance
- Further sources of information/publications
If there is guidance on specific issues that could usefully be included here please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Devon Biodiversity Records Centre (DBRC) holds information on protected and priority species and habitats (including survey information for County Wildlife Site designations). Note however that information held on species is not comprehensive and this data is not a substitute for a survey (e.g. information may not be available for unsurveyed sites). Contact DBRC on 01392 274128 or request a data search for more information.
Legislation, policy and protected habitats and species
- Interactive Bat Protocol – this provides a very useful reminder of how to deal with European Protected Species issues from the pre-application stage through to determination and construction.
- Biodiversity Planning Toolkit – an on-going project that provides useful information on species, habitats, legislation etc. Example case studies available
- Wildlife Survey Calendar – it is important that surveys are timetabled into your project plan in order to avoid wasting time and money
Survey and mitigation guidance publications
The following publications provide guidance on protected species and information on survey methodologies, assessment of impacts, and mitigation measures.
Phase 1 habitat survey
- A Review of Bat Mitigation in Relation to Highway Severance, (2011), O’Connor and Green, Halcrow Group Ltd.
- Bats and Lighting in the UK, (2009), Bat Conservation Trust, London
- Bats and onshore wind turbines (interim guidance), (2009), Natural England
- Bats and single large wind turbines: Joint Agencies interim guidance, (2009), Natural England
- Bat Mitigation Guidelines, (2004), Mitchell-Jones, A.J., English Nature, Peterborough.
- Bat Surveys: Good Practice Guidelines, (2007), Bat Conservation Trust, London.
- Bat Workers’ Manual, 3rd Edition, (2004), Mitchell-Jones, A.J. & Mcleish, A.P., JNCC, Peterborough
- Guidance notes for the reduction of obtrusive light, (2011), Institute of Lighting Professionals (ILP), Rugby
- The Lesser Horseshoe Bat Conservation Handbook. (2008), Schofield, H.W, The Vincent Wildlife Trust
- Assessing ornithological impacts associated with wind farm developments:surveying recommendations, (2007), Natural England
- Assessing the effects of onshore wind farms on birds, (2010), Natural England, Sheffield
- Barn conversions and other development, (2013), The Barn Owl Trust, Ashburton
- Barn Owls and Rural Planning Applications ‘What needs to happen’ – A Guide for Planners, (2009), Ramsden, D and Twiggs, M., The Barn Owl Trust, Ashburton
- Barn Owl ‘Tyto alba’ Survey Methodology and Techniques for use in Ecological Assessment,(2011), Colin Shawyer
- Wild Birds and the Law England and Wales: A Plain Guide to Bird Protection Today, (2007), Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Sandy, Bedfordshire
Great Crested Newts
- Great Crested Newt Conservation Handbook, (2001), Langton, T., Beckett, C. & Foster, J., Froglife, Halesworth
- Great Crested Newt Habitat Suitablity Index – ARG Advice Note 5, (2010), Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the United Kingdom
- Great Crested Newt Mitigation Guidelines, (2001), English Nature, Peterborough.
- Ecology of the European Otter. Conserving Natura 2000. Rivers Ecology Series No. 10, (2003), Chanin, P, English Nature, Peterborough.
- Otters and development, (2008), Scottish Natural Heritage (2008)
- Otters: A Guide for Developers, (2009), Countryside Council for Wales, Bangor.(Contact Enquiry Service, 0845 1306 229)
- Herpetofauna Worker’s Manual, (1998), Gent, T. & Gibson, S., JNCC, Peterborough
- Reptiles Mitigation Guidelines, (2011), Natural England
- Reptile Habitat Management Handbook, (2010), Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Bournemouth
- Froglife Advice Sheet 10: Reptile Survey, (1999), Froglife