Absolute Ecology | Legislation and Licensing
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Legislation and Licensing

National and European legislation, along with Government planning policy, drives much of the demand for ecological consultancy and in relation to planning applications, can be confusing and frustrating.
A brief summary of some relevant policy and legislation relating to biodiversity can be found below.

This is for informational purposes only, for specialist advice contact us

  1. The United Kingdom Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) 1994 sets out a strategy for implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity, which was signed by the United Kingdom at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992. The published report contains action plans for the United Kingdom’s most threatened species and habitat plans for the most vulnerable areas.
  2. The Local BAP sets out the county’s part in the UK biodiversity planning process, in the form of local habitat and species action plans. Local BAPs are intended to focus resources, to conserve and enhance biodiversity, by taking account of national and local priorities.
  3. Schedule 1 Part 1 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (and amendments) lists birds protected by special penalties at all times. It prohibits intentional killing/injuring, taking, possessing, disturbing and selling (including parts and derivatives, eggs, nests, etc. as applicable) as well as damaging, destroying or disturbing nests in current use or dependent young, etc.
  4. Schedule 5 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (and amendments) prohibits deliberate killing, injuring, taking, possessing, disturbing and selling (including parts and derivatives) as well as damaging, destroying or obstructing any structure or place of refuge of listed fauna, such as dormouse, otter and bat species.
  5. The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 consolidate all the various amendments made to the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994, in respect of England and Wales. It is illegal to kill, disturb, destroy eggs, breeding sites or resting places, to pick, collect, take cuttings, uproot or destroy in the wild as well as keep, transport, sell/exchange and offer for sale/exchange species listed.
  6. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 increases the protection given by The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (and amendments). The offence to intentionally damage any structure or place that a wild animal listed in Schedule 5 of the Act uses for shelter or protection or deliberately disturbing any such animal while in such a structure or place is extended so that the offence also covers reckless damage or disturbance. The CRoW Act also places a duty on Ministers and Government Departments to have regard for the purpose of conserving biological diversity in accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  7. The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 makes it illegal to wilfully kill, injure or take any badger, or attempt to do so and it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any part of a badger sett.
  8. The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, as well as creating Natural England, gives all public authorities the duty to have regard for conserving biodiversity within the commission of their duties. This includes a duty to restore and enhance as well as maintain biodiversity. The Act also strengthens protection for Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and makes authorities liable for allowing damage to such sites or their features.

Licensing:

General Licences under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 are issued to allow certain actions to be carried out in relation to British wildlife that would otherwise be illegal under the legislation. Until recently (January 2008) all Wildlife & Countryside Act General Licences were issued by Defra, but this has now changed and they will in the future be issued by Natural England.

European Protected Species are animals and plants that receive legal protection under the Habitat Regulations. The Regulations were amended in 2007 and 2009 in order for the species protection provisions to be compatible with the strict species protection regime required by the EC Habitats Directive. It is now an offence to:

  1. Deliberately capture, injure or kill any wild animal of a European Protected Species;
  2. Deliberately disturb wild animals of any such species. Disturbance of animals includes in particular any disturbance which is likely to:
  3. impair their ability –
  4. to survive, to breed or reproduce, or to rear or nurture their young; or
  5. in the case of animals of a hibernating or migratory species, to hibernate or migrate; or
  6. to affect significantly the local distribution or abundance of the species to which they belong;
  7. Deliberately take or destroy the eggs of such an animal; or
  8. Deliberately damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of such an animal.

It should be noted that the existing offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which cover obstruction of places used for shelter or protection, disturbance and sale still apply to European Protected Species.

Although the law provides strict protection to these species of wildlife it also allows this protection to be set aside (derogation) through the issuing of European Protected Species licences. Absolute Ecology LLP has substantial experience of successfully applying for licences along with designing and implementing mitigation schemes.

Natural England Low Impact Bat Class Licence: Absolute Ecology LLP

Natural England has launched a new class licence for low impact bat works. This new licencing process has been developed to streamline the bat licence process and to reduce delays and costs.

The new Low Impact Bat Licence will allow works on developments which will have a low impact on a small number of bats, while ensuring the works are undertaken within the law.

The range of innovative measures, designed to reduce both the volume of licence applications and the associated costs, marks a significant step by Natural England towards its goal of cutting red tape and creating a more efficient organisation.
Savings have been made chiefly via the introduction of an ‘annexed licence’* system for works affecting bats, great crested newts and dormice – which has reduced the number of applications and subsequent rejections and reapplications; and a new ‘class licence’ – which has reduced applications for individual mitigation licences for low impact works affecting bats.
This means Absolute Ecology is one of the few consultancies can issue Low Impact Bat Licences without further consultation with Natural England. As a result, projects will be able to proceed without the delay of the standard bat licence.

Special Points of Interest

  • Carry out any surveys required as early in the planning process as possible to save time and delays and money.
  • November to April Season is badger surveys
  • March to June is Great Crested Newt survey season and scoping assessments can be all year round.
  • Bat activity Survey season May to September/October.
  • Bat hibernation and general scoping assessments is November to March/April

Don’t forget Phase 1 Habitat Surveys can be all year round.

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For more information, contact us today on 01782 444292 or 07947 783448