British Standard to raise Biodiversity standards in planning

A new draft British Standard BS 42020 Biodiversity – Code of Practice for Planning and Development, was issued for consultation during the summer. Representatives of a wide range of environmental, development and planning bodies have been involved in the standard, which is due to be published later in 2012.

This British Standard provides guidance for a rigorous professionalscientific and consistent approach to gathering, analysing, presenting and reviewing ecological information at key stages of the planning application process. The standard also identifies the ecological data, assessment, design and implementation of conservation measures to be fed into planning decisions to produce:

a) appropriate, complete and consistent ecological information, upon which local planning decisions can be reliably based;

b) certainty and clarity for developers, local planning authorities and other regulatory bodies over the required biodiversity measures to be delivered as part of a specific planning consent or other approval;

c) sufficient information with which to identify and track cumulative biodiversity outcomes (e.g. net losses and gains arising from all planning decisions);

d) greater confidence for third parties that decisions and proposed actions involving biodiversity conservation are transparent, fair, adequate and legally sound;

e) reduced grounds for planning appeal or legal challenge; and

f) maximum scope for local decision-making within the changing legislative and policy framework.

The draft BS includes guidance on pre-application discussion requirements, ecological reporting, post- development monitoring requirements, model planning conditions and ecological management plans.

We welcome the development of this new BS and hopes that this will go some way towards providing greater consistency and higher standards across the profession. Our team of qualified ecologists already uphold the overarching principles of ethics, conduct and professional judgement as set out in the draft BS and will continue to make any necessary adjustments to our approach as required by BS 42020 once published.

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