Advice for Developers and Householders

Whether you're extending your home or building an entire housing estate, Gwent Wildlife Trust can help you to plan for wildlife.

Advice for Householders

Most householder applications don't affect wildlife, but being aware of wildlife law, and the opportunities to help wildlife will ease the planning process.

Here are the main issues to consider:

  • Bats: All our native species of bat are protected by European law - it is an offense to disturb a bat or to destroy a roost. If bats are likely to be affected, you will need to carry out a bat survey and submit it with your application. If bats are found, you may need to apply to the Welsh Government for a license to carry out your work. Developments likely to affect bats include loft conversions, extensions affecting the roof space, barn conversions, and works to mature trees. Monmouthshire Council has produced a checklist to help determine if bat surveys are needed (see downloads) but you should always check with your planning officer if in doubt.
  • Birds: Nesting birds are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). Remember that some birds, like swallows, sparrows and barn owls, like to nest in buildings, so consider structures as well as trees, shrubs and hedges. Usually you can avoid disturbing nesting birds by timing your work, but for some cases you may need to compensate for loss of nesting opportunities by providing nestboxes or landscaping.
  • Gardens: Our gardens are becoming increasingly important for wildlife. Although most garden wildlife is not legally protected, many species that rely on gardens, such as hedgehogs, are in decline. Similarly, your garden may contain important habitats, such as ponds and hedges. Impacts on species and habitats of conservation concern can be a factor in determining your planning application.
  • Helping wildlife: If you can, include a little help for wildlife within your project. Include a nestbox or batbox, or use native species in your landscaping. See our gardening for wildlife and managing land for wildlife pages for suggestions and advice.

 

Advice for Developers

Considering wildlife at an early stage generally means a quicker application process, and fewer unpleasant suprises. Building wildlife into a development at the design stage also means that biodiversity fits cohenerently into the development, rather than potential being forced to compromise the design at a later stage. Research has shown that developments that include wildlife features are percieved as being of higher quality, have happier, healthier residents, and even command higher house prices. Ecology credits are worth up to 12% of the Code for Sustainable Homes rating, which could mean the difference between achieving Level 2 or 3.

Gwent Wildlife Trust welcomes early involvement in development planning - from EIA scoping to pre-application meetings or just a phone call. We've listed our top tips below, but please contact us for specific advice. 

  • Factor wildlife into your costs and timetables. Many wildlife surveys have to be carried out at specific times of year, and some surveys can only be carried out by specialists. Your planning officer and county ecologist will be able to advise you on the surveys you are likely to need to support the application. Similarly, our consultancy, Gwent Ecology, can provide advice.
  • Work with existing features. It's usually much easier and cheaper to conserve a feature, such as a watercourse or patch of meadow, and incorporate it into the development, than having to create something new from scratch. It's much better for the wildlife too.
  • Consider multipurpose wildlife features. Wildlife features can often be multifunctional  - a wetland could provide surface water management, wastewater treatment and wildlife habitat. Landscaping can provide noise and dust suppression, as well as a source of nectar for invertebrates.
  • Make sure wildlife can move. Consider the position of the development in the wider area. Are there wildlife corridors or important sites nearby. Careful design ensuring that species can move through the site can significantly improve ecological connectivity, just as insensitive development can cause serious problems.
  • Consider management and aftercare. Most wildlife features will require some degree of aftercare, such as pruning or mowing. Careful design can help to make management  easy or minimal, such as by enabling machinery access. Significant wildlife features will require a management plan for at least 5 years (ideally much longer) and financial commitment to support it.

Resources for Developers

CIRIA - the Construction Industry Research and Information Association has lots of publications on all aspects of development and the environment.

Biodiversity Toolkit - an interactive online tool for considering and incorporating biodiversity in developments and planning.

Downloads

FilenameFile size
2006.12.14 MCC Bat Planning Applicaton Checklist Draft.doc89.5 KB