Local Planning Authorities in England can now assess whether a proposed development is likely to impact a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by using Natural England’s new tool.
The new tool maps zones around SSSIs according to the habitats and species present. These Impact Risk Zones (IRZs) can then be easily recognized when development is considered, and the types of development that can adversely impact the SSSI are now specified.
LPAs are obliged to consult NE before granting planning permission on any site that could affect a SSSI. As 8% of England is covered by SSSIs, this tool is a great help for developers.
agb Environmental’s ecologists already use this information to help their clients avoid potential delays by identifying any possible impacts at an early stage, typically during the Phase 1 Habitat Surveys.
Principal Ecologist at agb Environmental, Odette Robson, said: “The IRZ tool will help us to identify in our reports whether a proposed development is likely to impact local SSSIs. If impact is likely, we can advise on any necessary avoidance or mitigation, which the LPA would need to get approved by NE.
“As always, we recommend consulting with an ecologist at an early stage, so that any limitations to development of a particular site can be identified at the design stage, saving time and money at a later stage.”
To contact Alex Brearley about a development site you think could impact a SSSI, call 01638 663226 or email firstname.lastname@example.org