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Biodiversity and Geological Conservation

The Biodiversity Guide was adopted as a Council document on 16 October 2018. It sets out a new approach by Cornwall Council for achieving a gain for nature within development sites. It does this by encouraging more biodiverse green and blue space within development sites. These include:

  • parks
  • ponds
  • corridors of open green space along rivers and hedges

It also gives prescriptive measures for the provision of bat and bird boxes and bee bricks. This is to make space for nature and the expected quality of ecological reporting for planning applications.

Biodiversity Net Gain is a new approach to development. It aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than beforehand. It will require developers to ensure habitats for wildlife are enhanced. It requires a demonstrable increase in habitat value compared to the pre-development baseline.

By measuring the value of existing habitats in Biodiversity Units, the Net Gain approach firstly encourages habitats of high biodiversity value to be avoided or preserved, given the difficulty and cost in compensating for them. It also leads to new developments integrating wildlife enhancing features into plans in order to boost their biodiversity unit score. Such enhancing features might include:

  • trees
  • hedges
  • wildflowers
  • ponds
  • other habitats

With the increasing interest in small wind turbines in Cornwall guidance has been produced on the best approach to assess the impacts on bats. (Bats are a European Protected Species).

The Guidance for Single Wind Turbines and bats is available to download as a pdf file.

In 1996 the Cornwall Biodiversity Initiative (CBI) produced Cornwall’s Biodiversity Volume 1: Audits and Priorities. Following on from the recommendations in this document, Action Plans were produced for the Cornish priority habitats and species. These were published in Cornwall’s Biodiversity Volume 2: Action Plans .

A further volume, Cornwall's Biodiversity Volume 3: Action Plans 2004, has been produced. This is in line with the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) process. This highlights the UK BAP priority habitats and species that occur in Cornwall. It comprises of 25 habitat and 127 Species Action Plans, each written by local experts. Cornwall’s Biodiversity Volume 3: Action Plans 2004 guides local conservation work to contribute to UK BAP targets. It also ensures that Cornwall’s wildlife continues to be an inspiration for future generations.

Following on from a progress review Cornwall's BAP is currently being revised. A new volume is being produced. This Volume 4: Priority Projects, will also take into account the publication of the new UK list of priority habitats and species. It will also consider the new England Biodiversity Strategy (EBS) delivery framework. New lists have been produced which contain the UK BAP habitats and species which occur in Cornwall.

Bats are a rare and declining group of species. Hence, all British species of bat are fully protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). They are also protected by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. These make it an offence to intentionally or recklessly kill, injure or disturb these species whilst in a place of shelter or protection. Failure to comply with this may result in prosecution. Anyone found guilty of an offence is liable to a fine of up to £5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both.

Bats frequently live in buildings and may be harmed by development. The planning authority is required by law to check that your development does not harm bats.

If your proposed development falls into the categories detailed on the trigger list, a thorough visual check of your building, by a licensed bat worker, of your building to look for evidence of bat habitation must be carried out BEFORE your application can be determined. This applies to both outline planning applications and full planning applications. To assess the need for a bat survey, or any other wildlife assessment, an online pre-application wildlife check should be carried out.

The Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning has released a new pre-planning tool. This is the Wildlife Assessment Check. This free online tool is designed to help householders and smaller developers who are making applications for:

  • planning permission
  • listed buildings consent
  • permitted developments

It allows you to check whether your proposed site and works are likely to require expert ecological advice before making an application. It aims to smooth out the planning application process by encouraging applicants to address potential ecological impacts early on. It thereby reduces unnecessary delays and costs.

There are many ways that we can accommodate wildlife in our homes and gardens. The following links will take you to a information leaflets for specialist, practical advice: