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Biodiversity - Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA)

What information is required?

Biodiversity - Ecological Reports

Required for all applications (including householder development and Listed Building Consent) on a case by case basis. Not required for certificate applications

Please use the DCC Wildlife and Geology Trigger Table to screen the development and include with the application.

A PEA will generally be required for:

  1. Demolition of a building
  2. Works to a roof, roof space, weather boarding or hanging tiles e.g. loft conversion, roof raising, extensions
  3. Works to a quarry or built structures such as bridges, viaducts, aqueducts, tunnels, mines, kilns, ice houses, military fortifications, air raid shelters, cellars and similar underground ducts and structures
  4. Wind turbine(s)
  5. Will illuminate /cause light spill onto a church, listed building, woodland, hedge, pasture, watercourse, water body, tree line or a bat roost
  6.  Impacts on a watercourse, intertidal area or standing open water (e.g. ponds, Reed beds) excluding ornamental garden ponds
  7. Removes, or moves, part / all of a native Devon hedge or line of trees (excluding domestic hedges unless > 10m being removed)
  8. Is within, or may impact on (including impacts on hydrology), a woodland or a substantial area of scrub connected to a woodland or hedge
  9. Surgery to or felling of a mature tree with obvious holes, cracks or cavities, dense ivy, deadwood, bird / bat box (i.e. features which may be a bat roost)
  10. Removal of tussocky (rough) grassland, wet grassland, flower rich grassland or heathland

All applications except Householders will also need to provide surveys if the proposal:

  1. Is within or immediately adjacent to
    1. a designated wildlife site 
    2. Special Areas of Conservation,
    3. Special Protection Area,
    4. Sites of Special Scientific Interest,
    5. County Wildlife Site,
    6. Local Nature Reserve,
    7. Special Verge,
    8. RIGS
  2. Involves lighting or removal of a tree line, woodland, hedges, pasture within a Greater Horseshoe Bat consultation zone (please ask the LPA during pre-app discussions)

NB: Typically surveys are valid for two years, however this may vary according to the site characteristics, wildlife interest at the site, and any changes that may have taken place since the initial survey. If you are unsure whether an existing survey is recent enough to support your application, you should first check with your ecologist.

Biodiversity - Bats and Birds

A case by case basis, but generally applications involving:-

  •  Barn Conversions
  • Demolitions
  • Redevelopment of existing buildings that involves works to roofs, roof spaces, external cladding or cellars
  • Works to underground structures other than drains/sewers
  • Wind turbines or solar panels
  • 6. Floodlighting
  • 7. Felling of trees with bat roost potential

Biodiversity - Appropriate Assessments
Within South Hams SAC Zones

Within a South Hams SAC Sustenance Zone or Landscape Connectivity Zone applications involving:-

  • New build or change of use on, or adjacent to, greenfield sites, vegetated brownfield sites, woodland, hedges, rivers or streams
  • Loss of or changes to farmland, woodland or scrub
  • Removal of hedges/trees
  • Wind turbines
  • Floodlighting
  • Other external lighting

Biodiversity - within 12km of Plymouth Sound and Estuaries SAC and Tamar Estuaries Complex SPA

Any application likely to have an adverse significant impact on a European Protected Site (Special Protection Area or Special Area of Conservation) within the 12km buffer zone.

Other sites that could be affected by development include:

  • Dartmoor SAC
  • Culm Grasslands SAC
  • South Hams SAC
  • Lyme Bay and Torbay SAC
  • Start Point to Plymouth Sound and Eddystone SAC

What information is required?

All applications must be accompanied by a completed Wildlife Trigger Table.

Householder Applications should be accompanied by the householder/building checklist. Please read this Guidance Note for more information.

This can be found using the link below. Please ensure it is completed correctly, e.g. do not tick "no" to works to roof when a loft conversion is proposed

Applications for development that has the potential to adversely affect biodiversity must be accompanied by an Ecological Report. This must be up to date and appraise the site itself and adjacent land. It must be produced by a suitably qualified and licensed ecological consultant and include:

  • desk study
  • phase 1 survey
  • Natural England Offsetting Metric calculations showing the net biodiversity loss/gain
  • protected species surveys
  • any additional habitat and species surveys advised by the ecologist
  • assessment of importance of biodiversity features
  • assessment of impacts
  • suite of measures to avoid/mitigate/compensate impacts and details of how these will be delivered
  • details of biodiversity enhancements/net gain that will be provided
  • a scheme for monitoring the effectiveness of mitigation/compensation

Surveys may need to be undertaken over an extended period and the results used to inform the design of the development/ compensation. Many parts of SW Devon provide habitat and breeding grounds for legally protected species. Applicants/agents need to comply with all relevant legislation relating to these protected species.

If your professional ecological consultant considers that a report is not required you may submit a letter from them justifying why this is the case and we will make a judgement; photographs can assist.

We will not accept reports or statements from non-qualified professionals in place of a PEA.

We will not validate applications where further surveys are required, such as bat emergence surveys.

Where an Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) is submitted, including proposed mitigation, compensation or enhancements for wildlife, these should be included and reflected on any submitted plans.

This may best be provided as an Ecological Mitigation and Enhancement Strategy (EMES) to propose mitigation and enhancement solutions during both construction and operational phases. The EMES should be fully integrated with the Landscape Scheme and should demonstrate net gain in biodiversity

If the proposal affects aquatic species (including fish) or habitat (watercourses, intertidal habitat etc.) pre-application advice can be obtained from the Environment Agency. This is done via their cost-recovered planning advice service: Email SPDC

Where a development may affect the South Hams Special Area of Conservation (SAC) or the greater horseshoe bats that constitute the SAC's 'special interest,' the Council must undertake an Appropriate Assessment of the impacts. This is done under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.  This is the case whether the development affects the SAC either directly or indirectly, alone or in-combination with other developments.

The applicant/agent must submit evidence including:

  • The use made of the area by greater horseshoe bats, with up-to-date survey evidence
  • the type and extent of the impact(s) from the development, including habitat loss, flight path severance and increased lighting levels
  • mitigation measures proposed and how they will be delivered and maintained
  • how the mitigation will fully address the impacts on the SAC and greater horseshoe bats
  • ongoing monitoring of the effectiveness of the mitigation

A licenced bat consultant (their licence number should be quoted in the report) will be needed to undertake the survey(s) and produce the report.

If your professional ecological consultant considers that a report is not required you may submit a letter from them justifying why this is the case and we will make a judgement; photographs can assist.

We will not accept reports or statements from non-qualified professionals in place of a PEA.

Bat and Bird Survey Reports must include:

  • date of survey,
  • the methodology used,
  • evidence found,
  • assessment of impacts on protected species,
  • mitigation/compensation for impacts,
  • details on how these will be delivered and
  • a scheme for monitoring effectiveness of mitigation/compensation.

The necessary surveys may need to be undertaken over an extended period prior to submission of any application.

Please show any mitigation on the submitted plans

If emergence surveys are needed, these must be undertaken and the results submitted with the application; we will not validate without these

EU Protected Species

If your proposal is likely to impact on a European Protected Species (e.g. bats, dormice) you may also need to obtain a Natural England Licence after you have secured planning permission. While the Council does not grant licences itself, the Council is required to take an opinion on whether a licence will be required (i.e. is the proposed development likely to result in an offence against a protected species), and the likelihood of Natural England subsequently granting a licence

Complete survey information, consideration of impacts and appropriate mitigation and/or compensation will be required with the planning application to inform this consideration

Sites within the SAC 

Sites within or affecting the South Hams Special Area of Conservation may require comprehensive bat surveys, undertaken over an extended period.

Where a development may affect the South Hams Special Area of Conservation (SAC) or the greater horseshoe bats that constitute the SAC's 'special interest,' the Council must undertake an Appropriate Assessment of the impacts. This is done under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.  This is the case whether the development affects the SAC either directly or indirectly, alone or in-combination with other developments.

The applicant/agent must submit evidence including:

  • The use made of the area by greater horseshoe bats, with up-to-date survey evidence
  • the type and extent of the impact(s) from the development, including habitat loss, flight path severance and increased lighting levels
  • mitigation measures proposed and how they will be delivered and maintained
  • how the mitigation will fully address the impacts on the SAC and greater horseshoe bats
  • ongoing monitoring of the effectiveness of the mitigation

Sites located within the SAC or one of the associated Greater Horseshoe Bats Sustenance Zones may require comprehensive bat surveys. These surveys should be  undertaken over an extended period prior to submission of the application. These surveys should comply with the latest Bat Conservation Trust's survey guidance. The relevent areas can be viewed on the ecology layers of the Devon County Council map viewer (see links below).

Sites located within the SAC Landscape Connectivity Zone may also require bat surveys. Pre-application advice should be sought from Natural England

The South Hams SAC Planning Guidance gives more detail on likely impacts on SAC bats, size and type of developments that might impact on them and possible mitigation measures. The guidance explains the difference between the Sustenance Zones and the Landscape Connectivity Zone

All surveys must be up to date and undertaken by suitably qualified and licensed ecological consultants

Information on existing and proposed lighting levels, must also be provided in consultation with lighting and ecological consultants. In some cases, noise studies may also be required, again informed by consultants. Mitigation measures must be devised in consultation with ecological and subject-specific consultants

All new residential and tourism development within the 12km Zone of Influence around the Tamar European Marine Site must contribute towards mitigating the recreational impact of development on the Site. This includes changes of use to residential and tourist accommodation annexes 

Sufficient information (surveys, reports, mitigation) must be submitted with the application to enable a HRA/AA to be carried out.

Where the only potential harm is from recreational disturbance, Natural England agree that mitigation can be met by a specified financial contribution to a Strategic Mitigation Plan. Otherwise a full AA and mitigation strategy will be required for each proposal.

The standard Unilateral Undertaking (and fee) is required and canto be submitted with the application to avoid delay, where this is the only matter needing to be secured by legal agreement. The fee will be refunded in the event of a refusal of planning permission.

Please refer to the SPD for contribution levels

Please note, we will require a completed Unilateral Undertaking before we can issue your decision where it is approved

For development affecting other designated sites, applications must be accompanied by a document entitled 'Evidence to inform a Habitats Regulations Assessment.'

This should consider the probability or risk that the proposal will have significant effects on the conservation objectives of the protected sites. These effects may be either alone or in combination with other plans or projects.

Where there is a likelihood of an adverse significant impact on a European Protected Site, we will undertake an 'Appropriate Assessment.' 

This is informed in part by the evidence supplied with the application. We will also consult Natural England before coming to a decision.

The Local Planning Authority must 'ascertain that the proposal will not have an adverse effect on the integrity of the site before it may grant permission'


Other Information

Biodiversity Net Gain StatementInformation required

Required for major developments

Encouraged for non-major developments - this may become mandatory via Government legislation in the future.

The "DEFRA Biodiversity Metric 3.0 Spreadsheet" (or subsequent updated versions) is required to demonstrate a net gain of 10% increase in biodiversity credits

This is as well as, and not instead of, the mitigation hierarchy - avoid, mitigate, compensate

For on-site provision, a management plan will be required which can be through the LEMP and secured in a S106

For off-site provision, either financial contributions or long term land management, secured in a S106


Links to Useful Guidance

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