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Ecology – An Industry Update from 2013

January 16, 2014 HannahMaben Ecological ConsultancyEcologist

2013 saw a number of changes within the ecology sector, many of which aim to improve standards and efficiency.  Here is a summary of just a few:

Royal Charter for the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management

In spring 2014 IEEM was granted its Royal Charter and the professional membership body is now known as the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).  Hannah Maben and Kate Hayward are both full members of CIEEM (MCIEEM).

Natural England Standing Advice – updated to include European Protected Species

Standing Advice for Protected Species was introduced by Natural England in 2011.  The purpose of the Standing Advice is to ensure that Local Planning Authorities and developers will no longer have to wait for 21 days for advice from Natural England on wildlife species covered by European law.

Rather than providing a specific consultation response to planning applications, Natural England will now generally state “We have not assessed this application and associated documents for impacts on protected species” and “You should apply our Standing Advice to this application”.

The Standing Advice was reviewed in summer 2013 and in autumn 2013 it was re-issued and extended to include European Protected Species (bats, great crested newts, dormice, freshwater fish, higher and lower plants, invertebrates, natterjack toads, otters and two reptile species (sand lizards and smooth snakes)).

British Standard BS 42020:2013 Biodiversity Code of practice for planning and development

In August 2013 the first ever British Standard on biodiversity management was published.  BS 42020:2013 Biodiversity Code of practice for planning and development aims to assist organizations involved in achieving the UKs commitment to halt overall loss of biodiversity by 2020.  BSI state that “Along with a streamlined UK National Planning Policy Framework, which supersedes much of the previously-published guidance around biodiversity, BS 42020 will play a vital role in helping protect and enhance UK biodiversity”.

New great crested newt licences introduced by Natural England

Great crested newt annexed licences were launched by Natural England at the end of April 2013 and from September 2013 all applicants were required to use the new forms and documentation.  The aim of the new process was to avoid the need to issue a formal ‘further information request’ on licence applications and help reduce delays and costs to developers.

Under the previous system Natural England would reject applications that did not satisfy them until further information had been re-submitted, increasing the time taken to obtain a licence.  The new annexed licences allow Natural England to liaise with the applicants and their consultants and attach conditions to an inadequate application, enabling it to proceed rather than issuing a further information request.

Natural England has reported largely positive feedback from both applicants and their Wildlife Advisors and success in meeting their aim on almost 130 licence applications.  Following the success of the great crested newt annexed licences, Natural England are proposing to introduce the process to both bats and dormice in the future.

Biodiversity Off-setting

In September 2013, the Government published its ‘Biodiversity Off-setting in England’ report, which sets out how the Government is planning to introduce biodiversity off-setting for new developments.  This is so that new developments can off-set any damage done to habitats and ensure no net loss of biodiversity to an area.  A copy of the report can be viewed here:  http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmenvaud/750/750.pdf

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