How many householders and small developers actually think about their wildlife impact? asks Dr. Rosalie Callway.

Many householders and smaller developers may be unaware that local planning authorities have a statutory requirement to consider the ecological impact of development proposals, and to promote biodiversity improvements. Failure to consider the ecological impact can result in delays and additional knock-on costs for projects, such as when unforeseen ecological surveys have to be carried out during particular seasons or becoming caught up in costly court proceedings due to a failure to address legal protections on wildlife.

At a recent event a senior planning officer at the London Borough of Newham estimated they received around 4,000 planning applications last year. Of those, only five were large developments that would be expected to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and an associated Ecology Impact Assessment (EcIA). The vast majority, 3995 applications, would need to be individually reviewed by the authority to ensure they had conducted the necessary ecological checks.

Introducing The Wildlife Assessment Check tool from Partnership for Biodiversity Planning: a free online tool that’s easy to use and allows applicants to check if they need expert ecological advice before submitting a planning application. They simply answer a few questions about the site, the location, local habitats and type of works involved.

The first page of the Wildlife Assessment Check invites users to identify where their project is located

The Wildlife Assessment Check aims to raise awareness about legal responsibilities, to provide basic guidance on biodiversity enhancement, links to key contacts and resources and help cut delays in the application process by encouraging an early ecological assessment of a site.

The Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning, is an alliance of 19 conservation, planning and development organisations funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

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