Wildlife and Planning

Wildlife and Planning

Planning Guidance - Wildlife and geology

Note that this guidance applies equally to full and outline planning applications.

DNPA is required to protect and enhance wildlife habitats, species and geological sites through the planning process. Some habitats and species are protected through legislation, others are protected through national and local policy.  On Dartmoor examples of protected species include bats, dormice, nesting birds and reptiles. Examples of protected habitats include hedgerows, species-rich grassland and wetland.

What do I need to provide with my planning application?

All planning applications must be submitted with a Wildlife and Geology Trigger Table (external website, opens new window) to identify if the proposed development may impact on protected habitats or species.

If there is a ‘yes’ in any column of Part A or Part B of your trigger table, a Wildlife and/or Geology Report must be prepared by a qualified and suitably experienced ecological consultant (external website, opens new window) and also submitted with your application.  If the Wildlife Report indicates that detailed protected species surveys are required these MUST be included with your planning application, unless agreed with the DNPA. The application cannot be validated without them.

Where avoidance, mitigation, compensation and enhancement measures are proposed, these MUST also be included with your application.  It is very likely that planning permission will be conditional on these being implemented and so you need to agree these with your consultant before submitting the application.

What should a Wildlife Report include?

The length and scope of the report will vary and should be proportionate to the impacts and size of the project. The report may vary from a short statement (if there are no or minimal impacts) to a comprehensive report with detailed surveys. Your consultant should be able to advise what is appropriate, this can be agreed with DNPA if there is uncertainty.

If a Wildlife Report is required, this must be commissioned at the start of your project and any project changes are discussed with the consultant. Any impacts on wildlife may influence your project proposals.   All Wildlife Reports should also include a Wildlife Checklist (external website, opens new window).

Once commissioned, the ecological consultant will complete a site walkover survey, which can be carried out at any time of year. If there are no or minimal identified impacts the Wildlife Report can be a short, written statement.

If impacts are identified, the ecological consultant may have to carry out further survey work, for example to clarify the impacts on dormice, bats or other species. These detailed surveys will have to be carried out at certain times of year, which will vary from species to species, and it is important that the surveys are timetabled into your project plan to avoid wasting time and money.

If the proposed development is going to impact on a European Protected Species (such as bats, dormice, otters, great crested newts) you may need a licence from Natural England. Your ecological consultant will provide advice on this as it is separate to the planning process.

Please ensure that the Wildlife Report clearly links and is consistent with other information submitted as part of your planning application e.g. trees, landscape, flood risk.

Devon County Council have produced Wildlife and Planning Guidance (external website, opens new window) which is provides further information and guidance relevant to Dartmoor, for example regarding the South Hams SAC (designated for greater horseshoe bats), great crested newts and other protected species.

Please remember that you may need other licences or consents outside of the planning system where your actions are impacting on protected sites, habitat or species .

Updated July 2021.