The Dorset Biodiversity Appraisal Protocol
The Dorset Biodiversity Appraisal Protocol (DBAP) is how Dorset Council addresses impacts on biodiversity from planning applications. View our concise guidance for applicants. The DBAP is designed to meet the requirements of Natural England Protected Species Standing Advice.
Summary of what you need to know:
- Within the DBAP, applications are assessed according to size and complexity.
- Smaller proposals and those which have limited impacts on biodiversity will be required to complete surveys, provide an Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) report and submit a Biodiversity Plan (BP) for assessment by the Natural Environment Team (NET) prior to validation.
- Larger applications (generally those of 50 houses and over) and those with more complex/greater impacts on biodiversity will be required to complete surveys, provide an EcIA report and submit a Landscape and Ecological Management Plan (LEMP) for assessment by NET after validation.
- Once NET are satisfied that the BP or LEMP fully address all impacts on biodiversity, a Certificate of Approval will be issued.
Please note that the DBAP is designed to address the mitigation hierarchy as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, 2019. This means development must avoid, mitigate and compensate impacts on biodiversity, and requires development to provide enhancements or biodiversity net gain.
Biodiversity net gain
All DBAP applications are required to provide net gain, and a requirement for measurable 10% net gain is included in the forthcoming Environment Bill and in the draft Dorset Council Local Plan.
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 now encouraged to provide measurable 10% net gain.
Net gain will be quantified through use of the DEFRA Biodiversity Metric and developers are encouraged to use the Metric now, in preparation for the requirement for mandatory net gain in 2023.
Where a Biodiversity Appraisal is needed
Dorset Council routinely screens planning applications under the Dorset Biodiversity Appraisal Protocol and will ask for an approved Biodiversity Plan (Word) or Landscape and Ecological Management Plan to be submitted with a planning application. This is required under the relevant biodiversity legislation and national and local policy.
Size and type of site
The Dorset Biodiversity Appraisal Protocol applies to all development sites of 0.1ha or greater in size or where there are known protected species or important habitats/habitat features. More specifically, a BP or LEMP is required for a greenfield or brownfield site greater than 0.1ha. A BP or LEMP covers impacts on habitats as well as protected species.
A BP or LEMP will also be required for any sized site affecting a rural barn. In these cases either the BP (or LEMP if the application is sufficiently large or complex) should be used to secure nesting or roosting opportunities for Barn Owl.
Dorset Council will also routinely ask for a bat survey if a development involves the following:
- any building or structure with an existing bat record or subject to a report of bat activity
- demolition of an existing house
- conversion of house attic space - includes installation of roof lights or dormer windows
- house extensions that tie-in to an existing enclosed roof space
- renovation or conversion of derelict building (structures with roofs)
- conversion or demolition of agricultural barns / farm buildings (structures with roofs)
- impacts on greater horseshoe bats linked to the Bryanston Site of Special Scientific Interest
If bats will be affected by the proposals a BP or LEMP will need to be completed and submitted.
Applicants should also refer to the CIEEM Bat Survey Guidelines for information and guidance on bat survey requirements.
Guidance relating specifically to the Bryanston Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) greater horseshoe bat roost
This guidance applies to development proposals that could affect the SSSI. 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 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 are now offering a choice through their own GCN licensing scheme, developed in partnership with Natural England. 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 under the ‘traditional’ licensing route. Reasonable avoidance measures will need to be included in the EcIA and BP or LEMP, and reviewed under the DBAP, but use of the DC GCN licensing scheme is expected to be quicker and simpler than the existing licence application process.
The first step in use of the DC GCN licensing scheme is to establish whether a development is eligible or not. This is carried out when requesting the standard data searches from DERC, where DERC will confirm eligibility for the scheme through reference to a risk map. Then, an impact assessment using a 250 m buffer around the development boundary is carried out to assess the required number of compensation ponds or equivalent if terrestrial habitat will be lost. This assessment can take into account survey data if available, provided it is less than 4 years old. DERC will also confirm from their records if any additional GCN survey data is available for the development site and within the 250m buffer.
The development site boundary and pond survey data will need to be submitted as GIS data files with the application form to NET and 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.
Dorset Biodiversity Appraisal Protocol Guidance Documents
A set of Guidance Documents have been produced by the Dorset Council Natural Environment Team to provide information on how to complete the BP form and on the required standard of submission of survey information:
DBAP Steps to Follow
- Find out from the local planning team whether you need an ecological survey or surveys for your application
- If surveys are required, refer to the BP-LEMP flow chart for guidance on whether a Biodiversity Plan or LEMP is required
- Have an ecological survey or surveys carried out by a qualified and experienced consultant at the correct time of year. In the majority of cases survey results will be presented in an Ecological Impact Assessment report.
- If the Dorset Council GCN licensing scheme is being considered for the development site, please refer to the Guidance and consult with NET to ensure all relevant documents are submitted at the correct stages in the planning application process.
Then either (for simpler/smaller applications assessed prior to validation):
- Submit the survey(s) and Ecological Impact Assessment report, plus a completed Biodiversity Plan (Word) and payment to the Natural Environment Team
- The Biodiversity Plan, survey(s) and Ecological Impact Assessment report are reviewed by NET who liaise with the consultant to agree any amendments required, with a view to issuing a Certificate of Approval
- Following review and approval by NET, a Certificate of Approval for the BP will be issued.
- Following approval by NET, the reports, signed Biodiversity Plan and Certificate of Approval are submitted to the planning authority alongside the other application documents.
- If planning permission is granted, the Biodiversity Plan becomes a condition of the planning consent and you must comply with all measures stated in the Biodiversity Plan
- 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.
Please Note: 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 Plan require discussion and amendment before a Certificate of Approval can be released.
Or (for complex/larger applications assessed after validation):
11. Submit the ecology report(s), Ecological Impact Assessment report, a completed Landscape and Ecological Management Plan and payment to the Natural Environment Team.
12. The documents will be reviewed by the NET who will liaise with the consultant to agree any amendments required.
13. Following review and approval by NET, a Certificate of Approval for the LEMP will be issued.
14. 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.
15. 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 Biodiversity Plan or LEMP.
The species and habitats to which the Biodiversity Plan 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.
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. The Ecological Survey Season Guide provides a guide to seasonal surveys.
Survey results are routinely 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 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
View the current fee structure for the Dorset Biodiversity Appraisal Protocol.
An updated fee structure will be in effect from 26 April 2021. View the updated fee structure for the Dorset Biodiversity Appraisal Protocol (DBAP).
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
A small increase will be made annually to fees in-line 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.