The Dorset Biodiversity Appraisal Protocol (DBAP) is how we address impacts on biodiversity from planning applications. The DBAP is designed to meet the requirements of Natural England Protected Species Standing Advice and to address the mitigation hierarchy as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (2021). This means development must avoid, mitigate, and compensate impacts on biodiversity, and requires development to provide biodiversity net gain

In November 2023 many planning applications will be required to deliver a minimum 10% biodiversity net gain (BNG) under the Environment Act (2021). Where sites are exempt from the mandatory 10% BNG requirement, we still expect applicants to achieve net gain and other biodiversity enhancements in line with the relevant development plan policy and DBAP guidance. We have produced a biodiversity net gain guidance note for applicants and agents summarising the background to BNG and how it should be delivered. This document will be updated regularly as further government guidance on BNG is produced.

Net gain will be quantified through use of the government’s biodiversity metric and developers are encouraged to use the metric now, in preparation for the requirement for mandatory net gain.

When does the DBAP apply?

The DBAP applies to all development sites of 0.1ha or greater in size or where there are known protected species or important habitats/habitat features. View our Ecology Guidance for Planning Applications to find out if your application falls within scope of the DBAP, using the flow-chart and the biodiversity checklist if indicated. This guidance also tells you which surveys will be required and when. Applications outside of the DBAP scope may still be required to provide ecological information as part of the planning application and wildlife legislation applies to all planning applications.

DBAP steps to follow

  1. View our Ecology Guidance for Planning Applications and use the flow-chart to find out if your planning application is within the scope of the DBAP. If the Biodiversity Checklist is indicated, use the biodiversity checklist to see if ecological surveys are required.
  2. Have all necessary ecological surveys undertaken by a qualified and experienced consultant at the correct time of year. In most cases, survey results will be presented in an Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) report.

For householder or minor applications, the steps below should be completed prior to validation. For major applications these steps should be completed after validation.

Major applications include either:

  • residential developments of 10+ dwellings or sites of 0.5ha or more
  • non-residential development of 1,000sq m/1 ha or more
  • minerals and waste development

For major residential developments over 50 dwellings, a Landscape Ecological Management Plan (LEMP) should be submitted instead of a Biodiversity Plan (BP).

  1. For applications within the scope of the DBAP, submit the EcIA report, plus a completed Biodiversity Plan (download in Word), or download the Biodiversity Plan form as a PDF, and payment to the Natural Environment Team (NET) at For applications found not to be within the scope of the DBAP, submit the completed Biodiversity Checklist and any ecological surveys to the planning authority.
  2. The BP and EcIA reports are reviewed by NET who liaise with your consultant to agree any amendments required.
  3. Following review and approval by NET a Certificate of Approval for the BP will be issued. The signed BP, EcIA and Certificate of Approval are submitted by the applicant to the planning authority.
  4. If planning permission is granted, the BP becomes a condition of the planning consent and you must comply with all measures stated.

It may be necessary for the consultant to apply for a European Protected Species Licence from Natural England where planned work would affect European Protected Species and would otherwise be illegal, e.g., destruction of a bat roost. This will be accounted for within the BP/LEMP.

The species and habitats to which the BP or LEMP refers are protected by law. It is therefore important that planning applicants are in agreement with the contents of the BP or LEMP.

If you are required to pay financial compensation due to the loss of biodiversity on your site and you are not likely to have a Section 106 agreement, you will be required to complete a Unilateral Undertaking. This will also be sent to you along with further information as part of the review if it is deemed necessary

If the Dorset Council Great Crescent Newt licensing scheme is being considered for the development site, please refer to the Guidance (Section D) and consult with NET to ensure all relevant documents are submitted at the correct stages in the planning application process. If being used, you must apply for authorisation from NET and make the conservation payment just before works are due to start on site.

Getting an ecological survey

You will need to engage a consultant to carry out an ecological survey. Surveys should be carried out at the optimum time of year when species are most active. The Ecological Survey Season Guide provides a guide to seasonal surveys, information on the types of ecological surveys, where to find an ecologist and the timing constraints for surveys.

Survey results are expected to be presented as part of an EcIA report, unless compelling reasons are given for use of another reporting format.

It remains the responsibility of applicants employing consultants to ensure they are competent in the required area of operation and fully understand the requirements of the work for which they have been engaged. It is advisable to ask for a licence number and references before employing a consultant for licensable work and obtain several quotes from different consultants for comparison.

DBAP guidance documents

We have produced guidance documents on the required standard of submission of survey information and how to complete the BP form. The guidance documents are designed to inform your ecologist so that they can provide the required information. 

You can download:

Bryanston Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) greater horseshoe bat roost

Section E applies specifically to developments which could impact the Bryanston greater horseshoe bat roost. It explains how development activities may impact the SSSI and the steps required to avoid or mitigate any impacts. The planning authority will consider, based on evidence available, whether application proposals are likely to impact on greater horseshoe bats and if so, this guidance will be applied.

Great Crested Newts

We are currently unable to accept applications to the Dorset great crested newt (GCN) district licencing scheme, apologies for any inconvenience caused. Please see the GCN guidance note for more details

If a development may affect potential or existing great crested newt ponds, associated aquatic and/or terrestrial habitats, the impact must be assessed in accordance with Natural England standing advice and this may include a requirement for a separate European Protected Species mitigation licence.  

Alternatively, Dorset Council operate their own GCN licensing scheme. Under the scheme, developers can choose to make a conservation payment for the creation of new ponds to secure and enhance GCNs more widely in Dorset, instead of carrying out detailed surveys and on-site mitigation as required by the ‘traditional’ licensing route. Reasonable Avoidance Measures (RAMs) will need to be included in the EcIA and BP / LEMP, reviewed under the DBAP, but use of the Dorset Council scheme is expected to be quicker and simpler than the existing licence application process. 

The first step is to establish whether a development is eligible. This is confirmed when requesting standard data searches from Dorset Environmental Records Centre (DERC), who will confirm eligibility through reference to a risk map. Then, an impact assessment using a 250m buffer around the development boundary is undertaken to assess the required number of compensation ponds or equivalent if terrestrial habitat will be lost. This assessment considers survey data if available, provided it is less than 4 years old. DERC will also confirm if any additional GCN survey data is available for the development site and the 250m buffer.

The development site boundary and pond survey data must be submitted as GIS data files with the application form to NET. DERC can provide these for an applicant if requested.

For more information and to avoid delays in the application process please refer to the GCN Licensing scheme guidelines. Download the Great Crested Newt licensing scheme application form.


View the current fee structure for the DBAP submissions.

A small increase is made annually in-line with inflation.

Payment of fees

Fees can be paid:

  • online
  • by card by calling 01305 228602 or 01305 228608. If paying by card please state that the payment is being made for Biodiversity Appraisal and give the site address
  • by cheque; made payable to Dorset Council and sent to the Natural Environment Team

Contact us

For further information and advice please contact the Natural Environment Team.

Natural Environment Team

Tel: 01305 224931
Full contact details

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