The Dorset Biodiversity Appraisal Protocol (DBAP) is how Dorset Council addresses impacts on biodiversity from planning applications. View our Ecology Guidance for Planning Applications to find out if your application falls within scope of the DBAP. 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

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. If you are unsure whether your application is within the DBAP scope you should use the flow-chart and the rural checklist or urban checklist in our Ecology Guidance for Planning Applications. 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. 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 EcIA report.
  2. If the Dorset Council GCN 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.  
  3. 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.

For simpler/minor applications – Prior to validation:

  1. Submit the Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) report, plus a completed Biodiversity Plan (download as Word), or download the Biodiversity Plan form as a PDF and payment to the Natural Environment Team at
  2. The Biodiversity Plan (BP), survey(s) and EcIA reports are reviewed by NET who liaise with your ecologist to agree any amendments required, with a view to issuing a Certificate of Approval for the BP.
  3. Following approval by NET, the reports, signed BP and Certificate of Approval are submitted by the applicant to the planning authority alongside the other application documents.
  4. If planning permission is granted, the BP becomes a condition of the planning consent and you must comply with all measures stated.
  5. If the Dorset Council GCN licensing scheme is being used, you must also apply for authorisation from NET and make the conservation payment at this point.

For complex/major applications, typically those of 50 houses or more – After validation:

3.  Submit the survey(s) and EcIA reports, a completed Landscape and Ecological Management Plan (LEMP) and payment to the Natural Environment Team at
4. The documents will be reviewed by the NET who will liaise with the consultant to agree any amendments required. 
5. Following review and approval by NET, a Certificate of Approval for the LEMP will be issued. 
6. If planning permission is granted, the LEMP will become a condition of the planning consent and you must comply with all measures in the LEMP.
7. If the Dorset Council GCN licensing scheme is being used, you must also apply for authorisation from NET and make the conservation payment at this point. 

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.

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 impacts 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

If a development may affect potential or existing great crested newt (GCN) 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 great crested newts 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. A Great Crested Newt licensing scheme application form is available.

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 can be found in our Ecological Survey Guide.

Survey results are expected to be presented as part of an Ecological Impact Assessment 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.

Biodiversity net gain

All DBAP applications are required to provide net gain, and a requirement for measurable 10% net gain is included in the Environment Act (2021) and in the draft Dorset Council Local Plan. The new Biodiversity Net Gain interim advice note will provide more information for developers and ecologists working on projects in Dorset.

It is particularly important that multi-phase and outline applications address the need for net gain from the outset to ensure that subsequent development phases or reserved matters applications include sufficient biodiversity net gain and avoid the need for substantial redesign or impacts to viability at a later stage. Therefore, all development is encouraged to plan for and provide measurable 10% net gain.  

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 in 2023. 


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:

  • by online payment facility
  • by card by calling 01305 228608 or 01305 228604. 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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