Biodiversity & planning applications

Advice for applicants

Ecological surveys

Some planning proposals need surveys to assess and mitigate impacts on protected species and features.

Where it is identified that a planning proposal will have impacts on wildlife, these impacts should be mitigated. This is different to enhancement measures which are used to enhance the environment on the application site for wildlife. Your application should make it clear what is required for mitigation and what is proposed for enhancement.

Wildlife enhancement features

New development should enhance the environment for wildlife. Simple measures can be worked into most development projects to provide features for wildlife to use.

If you are applying for planning permission, wildlife enhancement can sometimes be part of a planning condition which requires further details (to be agreed with us later). To avoid additional applications and potentially costs due to a condition, enhancement measures can be detailed, and hopefully agreed, during the original planning application.

Generally enhancement measures should be:

  • Specific for the individual character of a site and the development proposal
  • Suitable for the scale and use of the proposed development
  • Detailed so the location, scale, style and purpose of the feature are clear (i.e. clearly shown on plans with text describing the measure(s)
  • Provide permanent or long-lasting features  
  • Well sited to increase the likelihood of its/their use

In householder development projects, such as extensions or new buildings, it is common to add permanent nesting features for nesting birds and/or roosting bats into the proposals. You may find the following links helpful when thinking about enhancement measures.  

Ecological consultants – top tips

Wildlife issues in relation to planning are complex and there will always be a need for discussion over specific issues, however we have identified the most common reasons that lead us to require clarification or further information from ecological reports. Most of these points could be addressed in the original report, reducing the likelihood of delays.

While this is not an exhaustive list we recommend that when commissioning or undertaking wildlife surveys and assessments you include the points laid out in the guidance:


Within very strict parameters, set out in the statement this document provides a method of working for sites where the risk to reptiles cannot be ruled out. In these situations where we consider it appropriate, we may require work to be carried out in accordance with the precautionary method of working rather than require the applicant to develop and submit their own for approval:

Permitted Development and Protected Species

The following document provides guidance on requirements in relation to protected species and permitted development.

Great Crested Newt District Licensing Scheme

Forest of Dean District Council has joined a new scheme that will deliver tangible landscape-scale conservation benefits for great crested newts, facilitate better compliance with related planning policy and save time and money for developers.

The new arrangements are based on a District (or Organisational) Licence to be issued by Natural England to each of the local planning authorities in an extension to the “South Midlands” pilot area, which includes all the local planning authorities in Gloucestershire, West Oxfordshire, Cherwell and South Northamptonshire.  

The licence would allow the local planning authority to determine planning applications and authorise works in relation to great crested newts at the same time, and is based on a regional landscape-scale conservation strategy for the species. This provides an alternative option for developers to use where planning applications might have an impact on great crested newts instead of the existing site-based licensing approach. The aim is to provide new aquatic and terrestrial habitats in locations where there will be the most chance of success in bolstering and re-connecting existing populations.

More information on the scheme and what it can do for developers and great crested newts can be found on the Nature Space website

Once the licence has been approved by Natural England and the scheme is up and running in this area, further details will be made available here.

A Strategy for the Conservation of Horseshoe Bats in the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean (2016)

The strategy, which has been developed in collaboration with a range of organisations relevant to bat conservation in the cross border Wye Valley and Forest of Dean area, is composed of a number of objectives framed to support the current SSSI and SAC populations  in the long term through enhanced knowledge of the bats, positive management of their habitats, increased protection of sites not currently designated, and provision of new and enhanced roosting opportunities within the wider area.

Commonly Used Ecology and Landscaping Planning Conditions

Planning conditions can be used to make sure development is carried out in certain ways to protect wildlife or trees as well as ensuring  the quality of development. In this way making a scheme which would otherwise be unacceptable, acceptable.  To assist planners, applicants, agents and other stakeholders set out in the document below are some standard conditions in relation to a number of common ecology and landscape matters.  Their purpose and application is described further in the document.