Submitting a planning application involving Protected Species
Protected species are afforded protection under both UK and European Legislation through the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species (Amendment) Regulations 2012. Guidance concerning Protected Species in relation to planning is set out by the Welsh Government in Planning Policy Wales (Technical Advice Note 5: Nature Conservation and Planning – Sept 2009) and a full list of protected species and those most commonly found is Snowdonia is included in the Draft Supplementary Planning Guidance on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity. A range of protected species are found in Snowdonia although those most commonly associated with development are bats, barn owls, nesting birds, badgers, otters and dormice.
It is an offence to deliberately capture, injure or kill a European Protected Species or to deliberately damage or destroy the breeding site or resting place (roost) of such an animal or obstruct access in a way that may significantly affect the ability to survive or affect the local distribution or abundance of the species.
The Authority must take into account the presence of, or potential for, protected species when considering a planning application. This note will assist applicants in the submission of a planning application or in any pre-application discussions with the Authority. To view the guidance and assessment form, click on the links below:
The remainder of this note is directed towards dealing with bats but the principles involved and the need to undertake an initial check and a Preliminary Protected Species Assessment will apply to all protected species.
Where are bats likely to live or hibernate?
A surprising number of buildings, structures, mine adits and trees in Snowdonia provide roosting and hibernation sites for bats and many areas of land and linear features such as hedgerows, woodland edge watercourses, roadside verges etc may provide feeding ground for bats as well as flight paths. Bats and their resting places can be adversely affected by development and other works to buildings such as re-roofing repairs and refurbishments.
How are bats detected?
Some bats are very small and may be tucked away within a hollow tree or the structure of a building without you knowing. They may be found in cavities within a tree or areas of lifted bark, under slates, soffits and eaves, in wall cavities or may use gable ends, windowsills, fascia boards, porches or cellars. Other than seeing bats, the most obvious signs of their presence are their droppings which look like mouse droppings, but crumble easily and contain insect remains. However, droppings will dissipate over time meaning signs of bat presence may appear to be absent from the site altogether. Therefore, the potential of a building or tree to support bats must be assessed in order to determine if further survey work is required.
Before starting any works or submitting a planning application you should have a look into whether your development is likely to affect bats should they be present. To help determine whether a Preliminary Protected Species Assessment (PPSA) is required, a checklist has been produced by the Authority. You should consider your proposals against this checklist to help determine if bats or any other protected species are likely to be present.
What happens if bats are suspected of being present?
If it is at all suspected that bats may be present you will need to commission and submit a PPSA by a licensed qualified surveyor. Once completed, this should be submitted with your planning application. If the PPSA is submitted, and subject to all other information being satisfied, it will be possible to register the application without the need to carry out a more detailed survey at this stage. The Authority can supply a list of qualified surveyors who can undertake PPSA’s.
Will I have to undertake further surveys?
Where evidence of bats is found, or where the results of a preliminary protected species assessment indicates that there is a reasonable likelihood that bats (or other protected species) are using the building/ structure/ tree, there will be a requirement for a further more comprehensive survey.
This more comprehensive survey will also need to be carried out by a licensed surveyor and will need to ascertain which bat species are present, likely numbers involved, how the bats are using the building/structure/tree etc. and how the bats may be accommodated within the development proposals. A method statement will be required to accompany the bat survey report. If a comprehensive survey is required, the Authority will not grant planning permission, subject to all other matters being satisfactory, until this has been received and mitigation measures agreed. For further information on the links below:
Can my development still go ahead if bats are present?
Provided all the above has been done and mitigation measures identified in the Method Statement accompanying the Bat Survey Report, then the Authority can grant planning permission, subject to all other matters being satisfactory. However there will be a need to obtain a development licence, issued by the Welsh Government, in order to disturb bats before development commences. The information provided in the Method Statement section of the bat survey report will also be required for the development licence and having this available will speed up any licence application. A licence will be required before development commences but is usually forthcoming if sound mitigation measures are provided.
If you require further information on protected species or on carrying out assessments and surveys please contact Natalie Parry, the National Park’s Planning Ecologist.
Snowdonia National Park Authority
National Park Offices
Telephone: 01766 772 214