Sites and Policies Plan Consultation Draft

Document Section Sites and Policies Plan Consultation Draft Development Management Policies SP1 [View all comments on this section]
Comment ID 1018753//10
Respondent Natural England [View all comments by this respondent]
Response Date 19 Apr 2013
Current Status Accepted


Emerging Proposals map

The proposals map does not currently show national or European designated sites. These designations need to be added and should include designated sites that are shared with neighbouring authorities.


Potential Development Sites


We are unable to provide comments on individual sites ahead of further environmental assessment.

For all allocations, further information needs to be presented to show that the allocations are consistent with local policies and the National Planning Policy Framework paragraph 110 (Plans should allocate land with the least environmental or amenity value, where consistent with other policies in this Framework) and 165 (Planning policies and decisions should be based on up-to-date information about the natural environment and other characteristics of the area). From a purely biodiversity perspective, we advise that for sites where priority habitat constraints cannot be ruled out by other means (e.g. aerial photos) a phase one survey would assist making an informed decision.

Paragraph 98 of ODPM Circular 06/2005 states that

‘The presence of a protected species is a material consideration when a planning authority is considering a development proposal that, if carried out, would be likely to result in harm to the species or its habitat.’

Paragraph 99 also states that


‘It is essential that the presence or otherwise of protected species and the extent that they may be affected by the proposed development, is established before the planning permission is granted otherwise all relevant material considerations may not have been addressed in making the decision.’


In the absence of information about the likely presence or otherwise of protected species and whether any impacts upon them are capable of being avoided or mitigated, we advise the Council to consider the information requirements that will be needed to demonstrate a site can be developed.

In terms of protected species, we advise you consider the following:

? Records of protected species in the wider local environment

? The presence of habitats or features on site capable of supporting protected species

? The extent that if present, protected species may be affected by the proposed development


Environmental Assessment


The consultation document is not supported by a Sustainability Appraisal (SA) or Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). An environmental assessment of the Sites and Policies Plan is needed to ensure site selection and proposed policies are the most sustainable options and are consistent with and complementary to the Core Strategy and national policy. The assessments should be underpinned by robust evidence and consistent with the assessment of the Core Strategy.

The Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 states that "the responsible authority shall carry out, or secure the carrying out of, an environmental assessment, in accordance with Part 3 of these Regulations, during the preparation of that plan or programme and before its adoption or submission to the legislative procedure."

( Section 5(3). The Council will need to demonstrate that environmental assessment has "informed the preparation of that plan".



Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA)


The Council will also need to undertake a Habitats Regulations Assessment of the Sites and Policies Plan in accordance with the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, which should ensure all potential effects of the Sites and Policies Plan on European protected sites and their qualifying features are fully understood and can be avoided or mitigated.

We look forward to providing further advice on the scope of the SEA/SA and HRA in due course.