European Sites Mitigation SPD

European Sites Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)

The European Sites Mitigation Supplementary Planning Document is formally adopted by the Council.  Residential development within the 'Zones of Influence' should now provide the necessary assessment and mitigation: 

You can see the zones using this link to the interactive map.  New development should make contributions if located within the Zones of Influence of:

  • Plymouth and Tamar Estuaries Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area
  • Falmouth and Helford Special Area of Conservation
  • Penhale Dunes Special Area of Conservation.

The tariff applies to all:

  • full applications
  • outline applications
  • permission principle applications
  • reserved matters applications where no contribution was made at the outline stage.

Please see guidance on types of development requiring mitigation for further information.

Please note: for outline and permission in principle applications where the number of proposed dwellings are unknown, the maximum tariff will be required.  Any refund due will be made at the reserved matters or technical details consent stage once the number of dwellings is known and approved.

Submission of Appropriate Assessments

Applications submitted after 9 August 2021 require an Appropriate Assessment.  You can find the forms using the below links.  

You can find the forms using these links:

For further information please see the following Cornwall Council guidance:

Habitat Mitigation Collection Process 

From the 1 January 2023 applications within the  Zones of Influence of the European protected sites will be required to submit the appropriate assessment and either a s111 agreement along with the appropriate mitigation fee before the application can be validated or confirm they will follow one of the proposed alternative methods of mitigation.

Section 111 Agreement

S111 agreements and payments towards mitigation can be made online using the link below.

The S111 agreement should be signed by the applicant or owner of the development.

The form requires a planning reference.  Please only submit once the application has been submitted via the Planning Portal and the Planning Portal reference is known.  If submitting an application via email or hard copy, please wait for planning to supply you with the planning application reference number.

Please see below and page 32 of the European Sites SPD for tariffs.

Mitigation Tariffs

The costs per dwelling and per bedroom for student, tourist and active elderly provision are set out in the following table.

Site Name Cost per unit Cost per bedroom for student services/ accommodation provision
Fal and Helford SAC £352 £147

Plymouth Sound & Estuaries SAC 

Tamar Estuaries Complex SPA

£371 £155
Penhale Dunes SAC £180 £75


Where an application falls within the ZoI of Penhale Dunes SAC [set out in the published wording for the final draft SPD on terrestrial sites] and Fal & Helford SAC mitigation will be required for both sites, a standard Appropriate Assessment and contribution is provided for this circumstance too.

For campsites please see the guidance note please see guidance on types of development requiring mitigation for further information.

Alternative Methods of providing mitigation

Should an alternative method of provision for mitigation proposed such as the following: -

  • A bespoke proposal setting out a detailed scheme of mitigation to meet the requirements of the Habitat Regulations or proposals for this to be met submitted to accompany the application. This should be carried out by a suitably qualified ecologist.
  • A Section 106 agreement. A statement setting out this proposed method to accompany the application will be required. This method should only be used for major applications and be agreed with the planning service prior to the submission of the application.

Unless either of the above are submitted with the application, then it will not be validated.

Section 106 legal agreements can involve significant legal expense for applications, and delays to the issue of planning consent.  Therefore the Council's preference is for planning applicants to provide a Section 111 and the necessary payment at the time the planning application is submitted.

Discharges of Condition

Prior to 1 January 2023 some planning permissions have been issued securing mitigation by condition.  This condition will require the submission of a S111 and mitigation to discharge that condition.

In these circumstances a discharge of condition request should be submitted via the Planning Portal.  Once this is complete and the Planning Portal reference is known, the S111  agreement can be submitted and mitigation payment made online.

In order to discharge the condition the following must be submitted:

  • Discharge of condition application form
  • Discharge of condition fee
  • Completed S111
  • Mitigation payment

Please do not submit your S111 and mitigation payment without first submitting the discharge of condition request.

Planning appeals

Following a recent appeal decision there is a risk that planning conditions requiring the payment of a contribution or a submission of a scheme by planning condition will not be allowed.

Please submit either a section 111 and payment using the online form above or unilateral undertaking form. 


The contribution will be returned if either of the following occurs:

  • Planning permission is refused, and six months have elapsed from the decision date without a planning appeal.
  • The development has not started, and the planning permission is no longer capable of being implemented.
  • Any planning appeal submitted in respect of the development has been dismissed.

What is a European Designated Site?

European designated sites have the highest level of environmental designation in the UK. They are nature conservation sites established under the Habitats and Birds Directives.  This includes:

  • Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and
  • Special Protection Areas (SPAs)

What does the European Sites SPD do?

Policy 22 of the Cornwall Local Plan committed the Council to produce an SPD. Plans and policies must not harm the special features of a European site. The Habitats Regulations Assessment found that there could be harm.  This is due to increased recreation as there will be more people living in Cornwall. So numbers of people using the sites are likely to go up.

The document sets out a strategic approach to the mitigation and monitoring of the sites. With a programme of measures and a scale of contributions from development. This makes it easier for developers to make sure that their proposals will not harm a European Site.  It also means that we can use the contributions to help protect the sites. 

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