Publication: Pre-Submission Gloucester City Plan

Pre-Submission City Plan

Policy E2: Biodiversity and geodiversity

Development proposals must demonstrate the conservation of biodiversity, in addition to providing net gains appropriate to the ecological network. Potential adverse impacts on natural environment assets, including the connectivity of the ecological network, must be avoided or satisfactorily mitigated in line with the objectives of the Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership or a future equivalent body.

In exceptional circumstances, where an impact cannot be avoided or mitigated on site, compensatory measures, including the use of biodiversity offsets will be considered as a means to provide an overall net gain.

1. Internationally designated sites:

Development proposals will only be permitted in localities that could have an impact upon designated Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Ramsar Sites, where it can be demonstrated that:

(a) There will be no significant effect, alone or in combination, considering the site's conservation objectives; or

(b) Any adverse effect on the site's integrity can be mitigated.

Where an adverse effect (or effects) on integrity cannot be mitigated, further tests will apply in order to decide whether permission can be granted.*

2. Nationally designated sites:

Development proposals will only be permitted in localities that could have an impact upon designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), where it can be demonstrated that:

(a) There will be no conflict with the conservation, management and enhancement of a designation; and

(b) Any potentially harmful aspects of development can be satisfactorily mitigated; and

(c) There would be no wider indirect and/or cumulative impact on the national network of SSSIs; or where the benefits of development clearly outweigh the potential adverse impacts upon the key features of any designation.

3. Locally designated sites:

Development proposals on local sites that include Local Nature Reserves (LNR), Gloucestershire Local Wildlife Sites (LWS)) and Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGS) and in localities that could have an impact upon such designations will be permitted where it can be demonstrated that:

(a) The development would not have an adverse impact on the registered interest features or criteria for which the site was listed; or

(b) The importance of the development significantly and demonstrably outweighs the harm and the harm can be mitigated through appropriate measures and a net gain in biodiversity is secured.

Development proposals that could adversely affect legally protected species will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that suitable safeguarding measures will be provided.

3.5.7 Gloucester is a growing and regenerating city, but this need not be at the expense of protected and valued geodiversity and biodiversity. Open natural areas in and around the city, even those that are seemingly small or obscure, play an important role in supporting wildlife of many varieties and form part of a wider ecological network. Enhancing biodiversity can also lead to significant reductions in various forms of pollution and positive impacts for health and wellbeing.

3.5.8 In accordance with the NPPF, the City Council seeks to protect and enhance the ecological network, improving the biodiversity of sites by achieving net biodiversity gains from development. Developers should demonstrably follow the mitigation hierarchy, which should be designed to maintain and, where possible, improve the connectivity of the network. The appropriate type and level of provision will be a matter for the City Council in consultation with bodies such as the Local Nature Partnership (LNP).

3.5.9 The NPPF states that local wildlife-rich habitats and wider ecological networks should be mapped and taken account of through the planning process. The LNP are in the process of mapping the ecological network for Gloucestershire; identifying existing habitat, restoration opportunities (in terms of ecological opportunities), key existing connectivity and the strategic locations for increasing connectivity.

3.5.10 If the City Council considers that no on site mitigation is practical or possible, measures should be implemented as 'biodiversity offsetting' in the nearest Green Infrastructure (GI) project as set out in the JCS Green Infrastructure Strategy, or if this isn't possible, in Gloucester's designated Nature Recovery Area (NRA) as detailed at Policy E3 of the GCP.

3.5.11 For the avoidance of doubt, please note that 'Local Wildlife Sites' were previously known as 'Key Wildlife Sites'.

3.5.12 The River Severn, Severn Estuary and tributaries provide a route for migratory fish forming part of the reasons for the Severn Estuary's designation as a Special Area of Conservation and Ramsar Site. The Severn Rivers Trust has been established to promote projects to improve fish passage along the Severn and to develop greater use of the rivers Severn and Teme by locals and visitors. Development that may have direct and indirect impacts on watercourses used by the SAC and Ramsar species will be subject to a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA).

3.5.13 Similarly, areas of land within the city such as Alney Island Nature Reserve provide refuge land for bird species designated as part of the Severn Estuary Special Protection Area (SPA). Development that may have direct or indirect impacts on such 'functionally linked land' used by SPA bird species will be subject to a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA).