An ecological survey may be required as part of a planning application if justified by the nature of the development site and its setting.
Planning applications need to draw on surveys and reports from ecologists and set out measures to avoid or mitigate adverse impacts or propose appropriate compensation.
Barnsley Council makes avoidance, mitigation and/or compensation measures the subject of planning conditions or obligations where significant adverse impacts on biodiversity are identified.
Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG). There is now a requirement set out in the Environment Act 2021 and the revised NPPF (2021) for developments to deliver an overall net gain in biodiversity to be maintained for 30 years.
*Sites of Special Scientific Interest
The NPPF states that development on land within or outside a Site of Special Scientific Interest and which is likely to have an adverse effect on it … should not normally be permitted.
The only exception is where the benefits of the development in the location proposed clearly outweigh both its likely impact on the features of the site that make it of special scientific interest, and any broader impacts on the national network of SSSI. [NPPF 180b]
Minimising any adverse impacts on biodiversity
Barnsley Council, in line with the NPPF, turns down planning applications if significant harm to biodiversity resulting from a development cannot be avoided, adequately mitigated, or, as a last resort, compensated for. [NPPF para 180a]. There is now a requirement for an overall net gain in biodiversity for a development to be approved.
Adverse impacts may result from the design, may take place during construction, and some may follow from the site’s future use.
Adverse impacts on biodiversity include
Where the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats (such as ancient woodland or veteran trees) would result from development, the NPPF requires Local Planning Authorities to refuse the application unless there are wholly exceptional reasons and a suitable compensation strategy. [NPPF 180c]
It is clear that irreplaceable habitats such as ancient woodland and indeed old species-rich grassland cannot be ‘replaced’ by simply planting trees or sowing wildflower seeds elsewhere.
See below for SSSIs*
Net Gain in Biodiversity
The Environment Act 2021 stipulates a mandatory net gain in biodiversity for developments requiring planning approval.
It requires a 10% increase in biodiversity after development, compared to the level of biodiversity prior to the development taking place, as measured by a Defra metric
NOTE: The Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) on biodiversity policies published by Barnsley Council in 2019 sets out further detail and advice.