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Nature conservation guidance for developers - East Dorset

This planning guidance has been produced specifically for developers and those interested in the planning application and related processes.

Further guidelines and useful planning links can be found in the main  planning section.

Nature conservation and the planning process

Legislation and advice regarding nature conservation and the planning process is contained in a large number of different documents.  Nature Conservation and the Planning Process in East Dorset is supplementary planning guidance that aims to provide a brief overview of the principal elements of the current legislation and advice, particularly because they impact upon the development process in East Dorset.  This guidance is available to download below.

Nature Conservation and Planning in East Dorset

The natural environment is one of East Dorset's key assets. The district contains significant areas that receive the highest national and international nature conservation protection for the plants and animals they support.

It is intended that this guidance will be used when dealing with planning proposals, to ensure that our duties and commitments to protect nature conservation interests throughout the district are met and the numerous benefits to both wildlife and local people that follow from a rich natural environment are safeguarded.  It will achieve this by providing both local residents and developers intending to make a planning application with:

  • background information, identifying the habitats and species of note in the district and the legislation and policy which protects them
  • a clear indication of how the council will deal with the nature conservation aspects of planning applications
  • practical information on what wildlife-related information should be included with planning submissions to East Dorset District Council

It will also support the formulation of Local Development Framework policies and ensure that the when Council determines development proposals, environmental protection and enhancement are achieved through the land use planning system.

The guidance was approved as supplementary planning guidance by the Council's Policy & Resources Committee at its meeting on 18 March 2009 after a period of public consultation.

The River Avon Special Area of Conservation (SAC)

A developers advice note has been produced for the Hampshire Avon.

River Avon Advice Note for Developers

The River Avon rises in the Vale of Pewsey and flows through Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset to the sea at Christchurch. The River Avon and its tributaries form one of the most diverse chalk stream systems in the UK, with over 180 plant species, one of the most diverse fish populations, and a wide range of aquatic invertebrates.  The importance of the River Avon and its tributaries has been recognised for several internationally rare or threatened species, such as sea and brook lamprey, bullhead, Atlantic salmon and Desmoulins' whorl snail. The river is largely dominated by water crowfoot (Ranunculus spp.) vegetation communities. 

Much of the River Avon, its tributaries and some areas of adjacent wetland are designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) due to the presence of these internationally important habitats and species. SACs are sites designated by the government under Article 3 of the Habitats Directive as transposed by the Habitats Regulations (1994). SACs are of European importance for nature conservation and receive the highest level of legal protection. 

Under the Habitats Regulations, any development with the potential to affect a SAC and its designated species must be subject to strict scrutiny by the decision-maker (or Competent Authority), including Planning Authorities.  The Habitats Regulations also require developers to include sufficient information with their planning applications to enable Planning Authorities to make informed decisions on any potential impacts to the River Avon. 

The River Avon SAC Planning Forum was established to help strengthen planning liaison with respect to the internationally important Hampshire/ Salisbury Avon. It was recognised that there are a large number of Authorities involved with the River Avon, each granting permission or consent for a wide range of developments.

There is potential for ecological effects caused by pollution or altered hydrological regime to occur a long distance from each individual development.  Consequently, determining whether effects from individual developments will act cumulatively or in-combination is a particularly complex process – the Forum aims to coordinate and standardise this decision-making process. Membership of the Forum includes all local planning authorities involved with the river in Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset, English Nature, the Environment Agency, Water Companies, the Forestry Commission and the Highways Agency. 

One of the first actions of the River Avon SAC Planning Forum has been to produce Guidance for Developers which contains advice on how to get permission for developments within the vicinity of the River Avon. The Guidance shows how applications for housing, industrial and retail development, minerals and waste development, road schemes, agricultural land use and any changes of use of land around the river will be considered in the light of the site's legal protection. The booklet takes would-be developers through each stage of the process detailing what information may be needed.

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