Open Spaces Supplementary Planning Document

Chapter 7 Biodiversity and Green Infrastructure

Biodiversity and Green Infrastructure

7.1 Local Plan Policies GE1 and GE3 of the Local Plan discuss green infrastructure and biodiversity. These polices set out the framework and criteria which must be considered when preparing a development proposal.

7.2 Green Infrastructure (GI) is a network of green spaces and other environmental features which contribute to the quality of life for residents and the health of flora and fauna. Landscape design, biodiversity enhancements, tree considerations and requirements for multi-functional green space on site are all factors that will form part of the GI of a site and its surroundings. GI will also encompass access to, from and through the site including links to adjacent GI resources (e.g. links to hedges on surrounding land), opportunities for recreation, sustainability (e.g. climate change, pollutant filtration, Sustainable Drainage systems (SuDS), swales, low water demanding planting species, use of FSC sustainably managed timber products and soil products) and community involvement.

7.3 Biodiversity can be defined as the variety of all animal and plant species, the genetic diversity within them and the variety of communities and natural processes they give rise to. In the UK many species and habitats are protected under legislation and planning policy. Measures are required to avoid or mitigate impacts from development to protect these species and habitats and to provide biodiversity enhancement.

7.4 The Natural Environment & Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 - gives Local Planning Authorities responsibility to consider 'general' biodiversity, not just legally protected species/sites. The species and habitats to be considered are listed in Section 41 of the Act.

7.5 With respect to the NERC Act 2006, this places a legal duty on Local Authorities to have regard to biodiversity conservation (including opportunities for restoration and enhancement) in carrying out their functions. The determination of planning applications would be an example of one such function. Importantly the duty includes habitats and species found outside sites designated for their nature conservation interest, but which are considered of principal importance for the conservation of biodiversity (known as priority habitats and species). Examples include species-rich hedgerows and species such as hedgehogs and toads. Relevant national policy is contained in the National Planning Policy Framework and Planning Practice Guidance. The council seeks to meet the requirements of national policy and legislation, including the requirements of the NERC Act, through the Local Plan.

7.6 The provision of green space as part of development can also include features which enhance the natural environment and encourage biodiversity. This must, of course, be done at the right scale and in the right location to ensure existing habitats are not compromised and that any provision of new habitat is compatible with the location to ensure long-term sustainability. Therefore, clarification should be sought from the Councils Ecologist prior to the provision of biodiversity and wildlife friendly features to ensure the longevity of the environment and the ability for the green space to function for all.