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.
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
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
- Devon Great Crested Newt Consultation Zones, Guidance for developers and Guidance Document
- Cirl Bunting – Wildlife and development guidance note, October 2017
- Cirl Bunting – Survey methodology to establish presence of cirl bunting on a site – 14 June 2017 – for environmental consultants
- Amphibians advice
- Bats advice
- Dormice advice
- Otters advice
- Reptiles advice
- Water vole advice
- White-clawed crayfish advice
Priority 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
- 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.
- Site designations (note that County Wildlife Sites not currently included on this list)
- List of habitats and species of principle importance (section 41)
- European Protected Species – advice relating to European Protected Species legilsation and Licensing
Protected species and the planning system – a summary of legislation and policy relevant to protected species
- Natural England Standing Advice for Protected Species – advice which can be applied to any planning application that could affect protected species
- Detailed Protected Species Advice – detailed advice on protected species most often affected by development
- 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
- South Hams SAC – Greater Horseshoe Bat consultation zone planning guidance
- Devon Great Crested Newt Consultation Zones, Guidance for Developers
- Surveying Cirl buntings – RSPB recommended Cirl bunting survey method (in relation to proposed development)
Survey and mitigation guidance publications
The following publications provide guidance on protected species and information on survey methodologies, assessment of impacts, and mitigation measures.
- Ecological Impact Assessment Guidelines – IEEM (Chartered Institute of Ecological and Environmental Management) EcIA guidelines)
- General survey advice – IEEM general survey advice
- Technical Guidance Series – IEEM guidance, including compentencies 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
- Badgers: A Guide for Developers, (2005), Countryside Council for Wales, Bangor
- Badgers and Development: A Guide to Best Practice and Licensing (interim guidance notice), (2012), Natural England
- Problems with Badgers?, (1994), RSPCA, Horsham, Sussex:
- 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
- Common toads and roads: guidance for planners and highways engineers in England, (2011), Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Bournemouth
- The Dormouse Conservation Handbook 2nd Edition, (2006), Bright, P., Morris, P. & Mitchell-Jones, A.J., English Nature, Peterborough
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
- Water Vole Conservation Handbook 2nd Edition, (2006), Strachan, R. & Moorhouse, T., The Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Oxon.
- Water voles and development: licensing policy 2nd Edition, (2011), Natural England, Sheffield
- Ecology of the White-clawed Crayfish. Conserving Natura 2000 Rivers Ecology Series No.1, (2003), Holdich, D., English Nature, Peterborough
- White-clawed crayfish: surveys and mitigation for development projects (Natural England)