Action for Habitats & Species
Given the variety and complexity of legislation, and in accordance with Planning Policy Statement 9, the Protected Species and Planning Procedure was produced in 2006. The Biodiversity Team has an important role in checking individual planning applications and in the planning of future housing developments.
Planning advice and data gathering
Working closely with Natural England and colleagues in the Planning Division, the Biodiversity Team has developed a Protected Species Procedure which lays out the protocol for handling planning applications and for providing advice. The Team checks planning applications and provides advice to applicants, in particular offering pre-application advice. This helps to reduce delays to applications and ensures that protected species are properly taken into account in planning decisions. The Team checks over a thousand applications annually. The development of the species conservation groups, such as bats and great crested newts, plays an important role in relation to the planning process. Data gathered by the volunteers is fed into the Environmental Records Centre and so helps to inform the decision making process.
In 2006 a seminar promoting AVDC’s Protected Species and Planning Procedure was held for Planners and Ecologists from Berks, Bucks and Oxon. It was attended and endorsed by the local Wildlife Trust and Natural England as representing best practice in the area. Since this time it has been recognised as an excellent working model and adapted by several other local authorities for their regions. It has even been used as an example of a best practice procedure at an MSc course at Bristol University.
In 2010, in presentations to other local authorities regarding their duties to Biodiversity within the planning system, Golder Ecological ltd. used Aylesbury Vale DC as an example of best practice regarding their planning procedures.