How does the Biodiversity Appraisal process work?
If a Biodiversity Appraisal is required for your planning application there are a few straight forward steps to follow ahead of submitting your application.
Survey by a suitably qualified person
You will need to engage an environmental consultant to carry out an ecological survey. Surveys should be carried out at the optimum time of year when species are most active. For example between May and September for bats and spring/summer for botanical surveys. An Ecological Survey Season Guide provides a guide to seasonal surveys.
It remains the responsibility of developers 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 to get a few quotes from different consultants for comparison.
A list of environmental consultants is available from one of the published directories of environmental consultants such as Environmental Consultants Directory , or the CIEEM - Member's Directory
Completion and submission of Biodiversity Mitigation Plan
Once completed the Biodiversity Plan form must be signed and submitted to Dorset Council's Natural Environment Team for approval following which a Biodiversity Plan Certificate of Approval will be issued.
Early submission of a completed Biodiversity Plan (BP) is advised. Submitted Biodiversity Plans are group reviewed on a weekly basis and it usually takes around 14-21 working days to issue a Certificate of Approval. This can take longer during busy periods or if the details of the Biodiversity Mitigation Plan require discussion and amendment before a Certificate of Approval can be released.
It may be necessary for the consultant to apply for a European Protected Species Licence from Natural England to get permission to carry out your planned work, which would affect species and that would otherwise be illegal, e.g. destruction of a pond with Great crested newts. This will be taken into account within the Biodiversity Plan.
The species and habitats to which the Biodiversity Plan refers are protected by law. It is therefore important that you read and sign the Biodiversity Plan.
What happens next?
You will need to submit the certificate and the Biodiversity Plan to the local planning team when registering a planning application. Applications submitted without a Certificate of Approval and Biodiversity Plan are likely to be subject to registration delay.
The Biodiversity Plan will be conditioned in its entirety, as part of any planning permission granted by the local planning team.
From 1 April 2020 an updated fee structure for the Dorset Biodiversity Appraisal Protocol (DBAP) was put in place.
The new structure:
- introduces bands that more accurately reflect the range development categories that Biodiversity Plans relate to and the caseload processed under the DBAP
- means that lower density developments are charged at a lower rate following the ‘polluter pays’ principle, making the charges fairer
We have seen a rise in the number of submissions and the complexity of cases over the years since the DBAP was put in place. Fees were last increased in 2014. A small increase will be made annually to fees inline with inflation.
Payment of fees
Fees can be paid:
- by online payment facility
- by card by calling 01305 228608 or 01305 225716. 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.
For further information and advice please contact the Natural Environment Team.