Information and guidance on how to look after our biodiversity in Dorset when planning a project.

Dorset’s natural environment is home to a wide range of rare and special habitats and species. This is recognised by the large number of designated and protected sites, ecological networks and the number of protected species which are found in the county, such as sand lizards, nightjar, dormice, great crested newts and all 17 species of bats. Dorset Council aims to protect and enhance nature for the wildlife and people of the county.

Planning applications and listed building consent

Dorset Council have a legal duty to conserve and enhance biodiversity and several species and habitats found in Dorset are protected by law. If you are submitting a planning application or Listed Building Consent the Planning Team will routinely ask for ecology reports to be submitted prior to validating your application. To find out what Ecological information is required to validate your application please refer to our Ecology Guidance for Planning Applications.

Projects which do not require planning permission

Even if a planning application is not necessary the wildlife legislation still applies, which means you could be breaking the law if you impact protected species and habitats. Works such as the following should be subject to an ecological assessment:

  • hedgerow removal
  • works within 10 metres of a watercourse or 500 metres from a pond
  • works to bridges, underground structures and tunnels
  • works on a designated wildlife site
  • works involving demolition
  • barn conversions
  • works involving internal and external alterations to roof structures

Further information on the types of ecological surveys, where to find an ecologist and the timing constraints for surveys can be found in our Ecological Survey Guide 

Advice notes and guidance sheets

A series of advice notes and guidance sheets  are available on protected species (for example, hedgehogs, bats, otters and badgers), non-native invasive species and habitats in Dorset, with best practice guidance.