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 is a wildlife report required
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.
The following should also be submitted to ensure a quicker ecological assessment process:
Householder/building applications should be submitted with this Householder/Buildings Checklist.
All other applications should be submitted with the Wildlife Checklist.
To fill out these documents online, use the Add text function in the top toolbar of the documents. You can also use this function to place an X into checkboxes.
Production of a wildlife report
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.
Remember that you may need other licences or consents outside of the planning system.
The following publications provide guidance on survey methodologies and legislation and policy.
- Ecological Impact Assessment Guidelines – CIEEM (Chartered Institute of Ecological and Environmental Management) EcIA guidelines)
- Good Practice Guidance – CIEEM general survey advice
- Professional Guidance Series – CIEEM guidance, including competencies for species surveys and sources of survey methods
Phase 1 habitat survey
- Handbook for Phase 1 habitat survey.- a technique for environmental audit (ISBN 0 86139 636 7), JNCC, Peterborough
Legislation and policy
- National Planning Policy Framework
- Government Circular: biodiversity and geological conservation, ODPM Circular (2005) – statutory obligations and their impact within the planning system
- Biodiversity Duty – Information on the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act and the requirement of all public bodies to have regard to biodiversity conservation when carrying out their functions.
- List of Habitats and Species of Principal Importance – Defra and Natural England
Landscape and Ecological Management Plan (LEMP)
Construction and Environmental Management Plan (CEMP)
Applications for which construction may result in a conflict, disturbance or significant impact on the below will require a CEMP.
- other road users;
- sensitive wildlife designations;
- sensitive landscape designations;
- protected species; or
- priority habitats
Devon Environment Viewer
Information on Devon’s environment has been mapped on our Environment Viewer
Biodiversity Net Gain
Devon BNG guidance
Devon LPAs have worked with NE and other partners to produce Devon BNG guidance. Development of this guidance will help to ensure that we all have a common understanding of how BNG can work across the county including priorities for spend and links to brokers/facilitators working in the county. Individual LPAs may also produce their own guidance setting out specific local requirements. The document can be seen here. Please send any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Devon BNG facilitators / brokers: A list can be found here.
Devon County applications
Unless agreed with DCC any development resulting in land take (including agricultural or amenity land) will require the completion of the latest national Biodiversity metric as part of the planning application. Information on Metric 3.0 can be found at The Biodiversity Metric 3.0 – JP039. Information on the habitat descriptions used in the metric can be found on the UK Habitat Classification webpages.
Whilst not yet a statutory requirement DCC would expect applicants to provide 10% net gain in line with the Environment Act and advice from Natural England.
South Hams SAC
Further to public consultation, the 2010 Guidance has been updated and formally endorsed by all organisations forming the South Hams SAC Steering Group (Devon County Council, Teignbridge District Council, South Hams District Council, Torbay Council, Dartmoor National Park and Natural England).
South Hams SAC – HRA Guidance with respect to Greater Horseshoe Bats (2019)
Public consultation took place during 2018. A summary of the consultation process and outcomes can be found here.
Priorities Papers have been put together for each of the SAC roosts’ Sustenance Zones. They highlight where the bats have been found during surveys, key foraging areas, mitigation areas for developments, pinch points, local plan allocated sites, as well as some key areas identified for enhancement opportunities or further survey work.
- Berry Head to Sharkham Point SSSI
- Buckfastleigh Caves SSSI and Bulkamore Iron Mines SSSI
- Chudleigh Caves and Woods SSSI
- Haytor and Smallercombe Iron Mines SSSI
- High Marks Barn SSSI
Beer Quarry and Cave SAC
Follow these links for information on Beer Quarry Caves and HRA Guidance 2022.
DCC has produced an HRA template, which consultants should complete and submit with any ecology reports which require a HRA to be completed. The document can be found here – DCC HRA Template Document.
- DCC Environment Viewer shows where protected sites are
- Site designations (note that County Wildlife Sites not currently included on this list)
- List of habitats and species of principle importance (section 41)
Dark Corridors Guidance
A Devon dark corridors guidance note has been produced by a number of Devon Local Authorities to help protect bat flight lines – Maintaining dark corridors through the landscape for bats. This should be used by all consultants dealing with bat flight lines in Devon.
The guidance note is in beta format for 2022 and so please do share any comments. Please also help to promote best practice through sharing any case studies of functional dark corridors. Contact: email@example.com
The latest national guidance should always be followed. See Guidance Note 08/18, Bats and artificial lighting in the UK, Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) and Institution of Lighting Professionals (ILP), 2018 on the Bat Conservation Trust website.
Protected Species Guidance
Great Crested Newt
- Great Crested Newt Conservation Handbook, (2001), Langton, T., Beckett, C. & Foster, J., Froglife, Halesworth
- Great Crested Newt Habitat Suitability Index, (2010), Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the United Kingdom
- Great Crested Newt Mitigation Guidelines, (2001), English Nature, Peterborough.
- Common toads and roads: guidance for planners and highways engineers in England, (2009), Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
- A Review of Bat Mitigation in Relation to Highway Severance, (2011), O’Connor and Green
- Bats and artificial lighting (2018) BCT and ILP
- Bats and wind turbines, BCT
- Bat Mitigation Guidelines, (2004), Mitchell-Jones, A.J., English Nature, Peterborough.
- Bat Surveys: Good Practice Guidelines, (2021), Bat Conservation Trust
- Bat Workers’ Manual, 3rd Edition, (2004), Mitchell-Jones, A.J. & Mcleish, A.P., JNCC, Peterborough
- The Dormouse Conservation Handbook 2nd Edition, (2006), Bright, P., Morris, P. & Mitchell-Jones, A.J., English Nature, Peterborough
- Ecology of the European Otter. Conserving Natura 2000. Rivers Ecology Series No. 10, (2003), Chanin, P, English Nature, Peterborough.
- Otters: advice for making planning decisions, (2022) Natural England
- 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
- Water Voles: advice for making planning decisions, (2022) Natural England
- Ecology of the white-clawed crayfish, (2003)
- White-clawed crayfish: advice for making planning decisions, (2022) Natural England
- Badgers: A Guide for Developers, (2005), Countryside Council for Wales, Bangor
- Badgers: protection, surveys and licensing, (2014), Natural England
- Wild birds and wind farms, (2015) Natural England
- Barn owls and planning, The Barn Owl Trust
- Barn Owls and Rural Planning Applications (2015), The Barn Owl Trust
- Barn owl survey methodology, CIEEM
- Wild Birds and the Law Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
Legislation and Advice
- European Protected Species – advice relating to European Protected Species legislation and Licensing
- Natural England Standing Advice for Protected Species – advice which can be applied to any planning application that could affect protected species
- List of Habitats and Species of Principal Importance – Defra and Natural England
Devon Priority Species
Devon Biodiversity Records Centre host the list of Devon Priority Species.
Devon County Council, Devon Biodiversity Records Centre (DBRC) and Devon species experts from a range of recording groups and organisations have worked together to update the 1998 species list from the Devon Biodiversity Action Plan and produced a long list of ~ 1,600 species known to be rare in Devon (Priority Species) and a shortlist of 96 species (Devon’s Special Species) for which Devon has a particular responsibility.