Ecology and Biodiversity Advice for Developers
Hastings has a rich network of green spaces, wildlife habitats and species which make the Town an attractive place to live and work and contributes to the quality of life of all residents. This variety of wildlife we see around us is known as our local biodiversity.
Local Planning authorities are responsible for ensuring that the potential impacts of planning decisions on our biodiversity are fully considered. Hastings Borough Council are keen to ensure that planning decisions prevent harm to biodiversity and aim to maintain, enhance, restore and add to our local biodiversity.
In order to achieve this we need planning applications to be accompanied by the correct information outlining the ecological impact your proposed development will have.
Following the simple steps set out below will make your work easier and help achieve gains for biodiversity in the borough. It will also ensure that you do not contravene wildlife legislation.
Before You Submit An Application
As a general rule, you should ensure that your proposed development seeks to incorporate and retain as many natural features as possible and that applications are accompanied by sufficient ecological information. You should be particularly vigilant about the possible presence of legally protected species such as common lizards, slow worms, badgers and bats which are very prevalent in the local area. Do not underestimate the time that may be involved in surveying for and providing for their conservation.
Pre-application discussions with the Planning Department will highlight possible ecological issues at the earliest possible stage and will avoid unnecessary delay later in the planning process.
The onus is on the applicant to provide enough information to enable the planning authority to assess the impacts of your proposal on biodiversity, prior to the application being decided. We will no longer condition for surveys to be conducted after approval. If you do not provide us with adequate information to allow us to fully consider your application, you run the risk of delays and possible refusal.
Survey information to accompany applications
Ensure you have undertaken adequate ecological surveys prior to submitting an application. The level of detail will vary according to the size of the development and the habitats and species likely or actually present on site.
You must ensure that your surveys have been undertaken by a professional and competent ecologist. The aim is to provide sufficient information for us to determine the ecological impacts of the development before planning permission is granted. Every application with a developable footprint should provide some form of ecological statement. It is also important that survey work is carried out at the appropriate time of the year, especially when surveying species.
Some applications may require ecological monitoring both during and after the development is completed.
You may find the Sussex Wildlife Trust, Sussex Biodiversity Records Centre, Natural England, Environment Agency and the local planning authority hold some ecological data. There may be a fee for provision of data.
Large developments likely to have a significant impact on the environment require an Environmental Impact Assessment.
Protection of Existing Habitats and Species
All development proposals will be scrutinised to avoid damage to habitats and species. You should retain features of biodiversity importance and avoid fragmenting or isolating species.
Remember, some species have legal protection and you may require a licence to undertake some types of work. If your development involves translocating species, you will have to have a receptor site prepared and ready to take any populations. This may take up to twelve months.
Mitigate Against Adverse Effects
Where adverse effects are unavoidable, have you been able to minimise their impact? We may impose conditions to mitigate against harm or loss to species or habitats.
Compensation for Damage
We may wish to enter a planning agreement with an applicant where we feel the impact on wildlife and habitats cannot be further mitigated against. This may result in an on or off site provision of habitat enhancements, management or financial contributions to manage sites of biodiversity importance in the Borough.
Wildlife and their habitats are increasingly under threat. We will be looking to applicants to provide new benefits for wildlife within their development proposals in order to help reverse the decline in wildlife.
Monitoring and Management
You will be required to monitor and manage sites that you develop. The council will seek to impose conditions to ensure adequate management and monitoring take place. This is especially important if you are seeking to move protected species.