Main Changes to Local Plan 2030

Policy ENV1 - Biodiversity (MC70)

Page 226-227 Policy ENV1 Paras 5.296, 5.298, 5.300

Admin; response to 1499, 1506, 2378, 2162, 1296, 2326, 2275, 2578

Changes and additions to supporting text within Biodiversity section and Policy ENV1 – Biodiversity as follows:

5.296 The Borough is home to two designated sites of international significance for biodiversity, the Wye and Crundale Downs Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay Ramsar site which extends into an area in the south-eastern corner of the Borough between Appledore and Hamstreet. A small part of the recently extended Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay Special Protection Area (SPA) borders the borough boundary in the vicinity of Stone in Oxney. Under European legislation, the Council has a duty to ensure these sites are maintained in favourable conservation conditions and that they are afforded the greatest level of protection.

Where likely significant effects cannot be excluded, then an appropriate assessment prepared in accordance with the Habitats Regulations will be required. Where adverse effects on the site cannot be ruled out, and no alternative solutions can be identified, then the project can only then proceed if there are imperative reasons of over-riding public interest and if the necessary compensatory measures can be secured.

5.297 Nationally designated sites in the Borough include two National Nature Reserves, at Hamstreet Woods and Wye and Crundale Downs, and 20 13 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), comprising 57 SSSI units, which are of national importance on account of their biological or geological interest. These sites are legally protected by the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). These sites are therefore afforded a high level of protection in this Plan.

5.298 The Borough is also home to 83 Local Wildlife Sites (LWS), formerly known as Sites of Nature Conservation Interest, identification of which is overseen by the Kent Nature Partnership. In addition there are and 3 Local Nature Reserves, the Ashford Green Corridor, Hothfield Common and Poulton Wood, Aldington. These sites are important elements of the borough’s biodiversity assets and contribute to the promotion, preservation, restoration and re-creation of ecological networks. The Council therefore expects that they will be protected and enhanced in new development that arises during the lifetime of this Plan. Local Wildlife Sites are listed in Appendix 4 of this Plan.

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2.300 These BOAs, together with the international, national and locally designated sites listed above, and including in addition to the Green Corridors and other natural spaces such as woodlands and open spaces, form the strategic Green Infrastructure Network of the Borough.

Amendments to Policy ENV1 – Biodiversity:

Policy ENV1 - Biodiversity

Proposals that conserve or enhance biodiversity will be supported. Opportunities to incorporate and enhance biodiversity should be identified will be encouraged. In particular, development should take opportunities to help connect and improve the wider ecological networks. 

Proposals should safeguard features of nature conservation interest and should include measures to retain, protect and enhance habitats, including BAP (Priority) habitats, and networks of ecological interest, including ancient woodland, water features, ditches, dykes and hedgerows, as corridors and stepping stones for wildlife. 

Development that will have an adverse effect on the integrity of European protected Sites, including the Wye and Crundale Special Area of Conservation, and the Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay Ramsar and SPA sites, alone or in combination with other plans or projects, will not be permitted.  Any proposal capable of affecting designated interest features of European sites should be subject to Habitats Regulations Assessment screening. 

Development that will have an adverse effect on nationally designated sites, including the borough’s Sites of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserves will not be permitted unless the benefits, in terms of other objectives including overriding public interest, clearly outweigh the impacts on the special features of the site and broader nature conservation interests and there is no alternative acceptable solution.

Development should avoid significant harm to locally identified biodiversity assets, including Local Wildlife Sites, and Local Nature Reserves, and the Ashford Green Corridor as well as priority and locally important habitats and protected species. The protection and enhancement of the Ashford Green Corridor is one of the key objectives of the Plan and therefore all proposals coming forward within or adjoining the Ashford Green Corridor should comply with Policy ENV2 in the first instance.

Where harm to biodiversity assets cannot be avoided, appropriate mitigation and the management of such mitigation in perpetuity will be required in line with a timetable to be agreed with the Local Authority, on land that is suitably established prior to the commencement of development and the management of such mitigation in perpetuity. Normally any mitigation measures will be required to be delivered on-site, unless special circumstances dictate that an offsite model is more appropriate. A financial contribution - in lieu of mitigation - will only be considered in very exceptional circumstances. 

Opportunities for the management, restoration and creation of habitats in line with the opportunities identified for the Biodiversity Opportunity Areas (BOAs) and targets set out in the Kent Biodiversity Strategy will be supported.