Wildlife and geology planning guidance

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.

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.

Devon Environment Viewer

Information on Devon’s environment has been mapped on our Environment Viewer

Biodiversity Metric and 10% net gain

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. See the Natural England webpages. Information on the habitat descriptions used in the metric can be found at the UK Habitat Classification webpages.

In line with the forthcoming Environment Bill and advice from Natural England DCC expects applicants to provide 10% net gain

Protected Sites

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

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.

Protected species guidance

Priority species guidance

Landscape and Ecological Management Plan

Planning applications may require the submission and approval of a Landscape and Ecological Management Plan also know as a LEMP. You can find out what may will need to be included in a LEMP by reading through our guidance on the pre-application pages of the planning website.