On 20th August 2018, the Natural England and Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs have published the updated version of the Guidance on construction activities near protected areas and wildlife. The Guidance contains information for developers on how to avoid harming protected areas and species during development work.
A developer is responsible for finding out if its development is likely to affect a protected area or site. The planning authority may not grant its planning permission if it damages a protected area or site.
The following areas are protected: national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs), special areas of conservation (SACs), special protection areas (SPAs), Ramsar wetlands, local sites, sites in the process of becoming SACs or SPAs and sites of community importance (SCIs), Marine Conservation Zones.
A developer must consider how its development proposal will affect any nearby SSSI, SPA, SAC or Ramsar site. Its planning authority may consult Natural England if its activity potentially affects a protected site in the risk zone.
Many species of plant and animal in England, and their habitats, are protected by law.
A developer is breaking the law if it:
- captures, kills, disturbs or injures a European protected species (on purpose or by not taking enough care)
- damages or destroys a breeding or resting place (even accidentally)
- obstructs access to their resting or sheltering places (on purpose or by not taking enough care)
- possesses, sells, controls or transports live or dead individuals, or parts of them
Disturbing a protected species includes any deliberate activity that affects:
- a group’s ability to survive, breed or raise their young
- the species’ numbers or range in the local area
If a company is found guilty of an offence it could get an unlimited fine and up to 6 months in prison.
Guidance – Construction near protected areas and wildlife, published on the Government webpage on 20th August 2018.