Biodiversity Information for Developers
Opportunities to protect and enhance our biodiversity are best considered at the earliest stage in development proposals, allowing time to explore possibilities before investing in costly designs.
Planning for biodiversity – why does it matter?
Development can have both positive and negative effects on our biodiversity. Well-designed developments in the right places can help to protect and enhance biodiversity for the benefit of all. Developments with high quality environments are known to attract a premium price, are good for people’s health and wellbeing and leave a positive legacy for the community by developers.
Protecting important habitats is the least costly approach in terms of financial outlay and biodiversity loss. Enhancements such as wildflower seeding and tree planting or putting in place a woodland or tree management plan, can often provide significant wildlife value for very low cost.
Developers, local councils and other public bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and SEPA all have an important role to ensure that biodiversity is fully considered in proposals. SNH is a statutory consultee for developments that require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and those that could affect statutory protected nature conservation sites.
Councils, like all public bodies, have a biodiversity duty under the Wildlife and Countryside (Scotland) Act (2011) to further the conservation of biodiversity. One of the ways in which local councils deliver this duty is through the planning system, with policies to protect and enhance biodiversity in ALL development.
Developers – what should you do?
- Refer to the Local Development Plan, policies and Supplementary Guidance to understand the policy context for the site and the information that the planning authority requires.
- Consider any protected nature conservation sites or species within or near to your site.
- Consider the information available on species and habitats. What ecological surveys will be required, and when?
- Look for ways of laying out the development to avoid/reduce impacts on habitats and species, as well as protecting and enhancing habitat networks. Refer to the Smart guide to biodiversity in planning and development.
- Look for opportunities to design in biodiversity improvements, for example by restoring degraded habitats or creating appropriate new habitats as part of SUDs design.
Protecting important habitats is the least costly approach in terms of financial outlay and biodiversity loss.
Opportunities to protect and enhance biodiversity are best considered at the earliest stage in development proposals, for example through a pre-application enquiry. This allows time to explore any issues of concern before investing in costly designs. It also helps with scheduling your habitat and species surveys which are often required during specific seasons.
There is additional specific advice for Aberdeenshire.
Engaging a qualified, competent ecologist early on will ensure you have accurate information and will speed up the planning process.
Independent Member at NESBiP