Protected and Priority Species
Planning Policy Wales (Edition 4, Feb.2011) states that:
“the presence of a species protected under European or UK legislation is a material consideration when a local planning authority is considering a development proposal which, if carried out, would be likely to result in disturbance or harm to the species or its habitat”.
European Protected Species (EPS) are those species of plants and animals protected by law throughout the European Union. They are listed in Annexes II and IV of the European Habitats Directive. The Directive requires European Union states to protect the listed species, and for some species they are required to designate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). Bird species are protected separately under the Birds Directive and the designation of Special Protection Areas (SPAs).
Brown Hare Lepus europeaus (© Kieth O'Brien)
Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix (© Kieth O'Brien)
Many species which are not European Protected Species are nevertheless protected by individual states, for example in the UK certain species are afforded protection by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Anyone submitting a planning application must be in conformity with any statutory species protection provisions affecting the site concerned, and Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) should consult CCW before granting permission.
Legislation covering European Protected Species applies regardless of whether or not they are found within a designated site. A preliminary ecological survey to confirm whether a protected species is present and an assessment of the likely impact of the development on the species may be required in order to inform the planning decision-making process.
LPAs are duty bound to have regard to the requirements of the Habitats Directive in exercising their functions. Planning permission for developments which would contravene the protection afforded to European protected species requires a derogation in the form of a licence from Welsh Government. A licence would only be forthcoming if there is no satisfactory alternative to the proposed development and that it would not be detrimental to maintaining the population of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status in its natural range. The development, if permitted, must be for the purposes of preserving “public health or safety, or for other imperative reasons of overriding public interest”, (IROPI) including those of a social or economic nature and beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment.
Furthermore Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006, places a duty on all public authorities in England and Wales to have regard, in the exercise of their functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity. A key purpose of this duty is to embed the consideration of biodiversity as an integral part of policy and decision making throughout the public sector.
Under the requirement set out in section 42 of the Act, the Welsh Government has published a list of the living organisms (and types of habitat) which, in its opinion, are of principal importance for the purpose of conserving biodiversity in Wales.