Pre-submission Biodiversity Checking Service

CSA Environmental have received the first certificate for a Biodiversity Mitigation Method Statement from Suffolk’s Biodiversity Checking Service.

This follows CSA’s involvement, on behalf of Taylor Wimpey East Anglia, with an innovative pilot project run by Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service (SBIS) in association with Babergh & Mid Suffolk District Councils.

The project aims to provide a pre-submission Biodiversity Checking Service (BCS) for low impact developments in Babergh and Mid-Suffolk Districts, thereby streamlining the planning process for applicants and avoiding delays.

The process involves completion of a Low Impact Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) report template and a Biodiversity Mitigation Method Statement, providing the BCS ecologist with standardised information for determination. Providing sufficient mitigation is proposed, a Certificate can be issued for the Method Statement and submitted with the planning application.

When determining planning applications with a BCS Certificate, the LPA will accept the proposed Biodiversity Mitigation Method Statement and apply a condition for its implementation as part of planning permission.

The benefits of this process are:

a) provides certainty about biodiversity requirements and avoids delays

b) speeds up the planning process for applicants with a BCS Certificate and;

c) underpins lawful decisions by the Local Planning Authority based on high quality information as required under the British Standard for Biodiversity (BS42020 Sec. 8.1).

For the purpose of the BCS, if more than three protected species and a further three Priority features are likely to be affected, it follows that the application is more complex and unlikely to be a Low Impact Development. For further information, visit www.suffolkbis.org.uk/bcs.

The Suffolk BCS has followed guidance currently under preparation by Association of Local Government Ecologists (ALGE) and Chartered Institute of Ecology & Environmental Management (CIEEM) to provide a more efficient and effective method of assessing protected species implications within the local planning system at the initial stage. This follows the ALGE report for Defra (2013) to assess the extent to which a similar approach could be rolled out nationally and adopted by other local planning authorities.

The story has also been covered in the East Anglian Daily Times, available here.