Tel: (+44) 01479 870238


Governments at home and abroad recognise that achieving sustainable development requires an understanding of biodiversity (the diversity of life) and ways of maintaining this. Legislation and regulation at various levels aims to ensure that development or management proposals can proceed in a way that can maintain, or enhance, biodiversity. In order to do this, it is essential to understand the relationships between species, their habitats and the wider environment, when planning any change in land use at whatever scale.

As declines in plant and animal species or habitats of nature conservation value are recognised, many are given legal protection. Statutory consultees of planning applications (e.g. Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural England) can recommend that developments are refused if protected species, sites or habitats are present on or near the development site. Failure to take account of legally protected species or habitats, even where consent is granted, can result in delays or even prosecution.

Examples of legislation which protects species and / or habitats in the UK:

In addition to the legislation, planning authorities have policies which aim to enhance and maintain biodiversity. As well as biodiversity aims embedded in national planning policy guidance, in the UK The National Biodiversity Network publishes guidance in the form of a National Biodiversity Action Plan, identifying Priority Species and Habitats. Based on this, each region produces a Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) focussing on that region. Developments need to take account of all of the planning policies relating to biodiversity.

Developments may affect not only the wildlife on a site but also the wildlife in the surrounding areas. It is important to consider wildlife which might for example lose feeding areas, be stopped from travelling to and from feeding or roosting areas, or be affected indirectly by habitat changes.

Keeping on top of the ecological issues from the beginning of any planned development is always a good idea. Many surveys for plants or animals can only be carried out at certain times of the year, and planning ahead can avoid any delays at future stages. Alba Ecology has many years of experience in dealing with these issues and an expert team, in-house, to provide a forward plan for any proposed development or habitat change.