National Planning Policy

The following links take you to important documents and policies issued by Central Government. These should help guide local authorities on how nature conservation should and can be incorporated into strategic planning matters.

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

This was published in March 2012 and sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied by Local Planning Authorities. The NPPF gives guidance to local councils in drawing up local plans and on making decisions on planning application. The NPPF covers all aspects of planning policy, but much of the guidance relating to biodiversity can be found in Section 11: Conserving and enhancing the natural environment.

Planning Practice Guidance (PPG)

This is a web-based resource launched in March 2014. The PPG aims to bring together planning practice guidance for England in an accessible and usable way to assist practitioners. Ultimately the interpretation of legislation is for the Courts, but the guidance is an indication of the Secretary of State’s views and is written to be easily understandable.

Biodiversity and geological conservation: circular 06/2005

This circular provides administrative guidance on the application of the law relating to planning and nature conservation in England. It sits alongside and complements the NPPF.

Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006

The act is designed to help achieve a rich and divers natural environment and thriving rural communities. In particular the Act introduced a duty for all public bodies to have regard to the conservation of biodiversity whilst exercising its functions. Additionally the Act requires the Secretary of State to publish a list of habitats and species which are of principle importance for the conservation of biodiversity in England. This list is used to guide decision-makers in implementing their duty.

Standing Advice for Ancient Woodland

This advice is issued by Natural England and includes a flowchart taking you through a series of simple steps to help you identify whether you need to carry out an ancient woodland species survey, and a checklist to help you consider whether there are any ancient woodlands that may be affected by the proposed development.

Standing Advice for Protected Species

This advice is issued by Natural England and includes a flowchart taking you through a simple series of steps to help you identify if you need to carry out a protected species survey, and a checklist to help you consider if there are any protected species which may be affected by the proposed development.

The Localism Act 2011

This was created to take some powers away from central government and put them in the hands of local government and communities. The measures put forward can be summarised into four main areas:

  • New freedoms and flexibilities for local government
  • New rights and powers for communities and individuals.
  • Reform to make the planning system more democratic and more effective.
  • Reform to ensure that decisions about housing are taken locally.

In particular the Localism Act abolished Regional Strategies and allowed communities to produce neighbourhood plans. The Act states that Neighbourhood Plans should give 'communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and deliver the sustainable development they need'. Parish and neighbourhood forums can use neighbourhood planning to:

  • Set planning policies through neighbourhood plans to determine decisions on planning applications; and
  • Grant planning permission through Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders for a specific development which complies with the order.'

The government believes that neighbourhood planning provides a powerful set of tools for local people to ensure that they get the right types of development for their community. However Neighbourhood Plans must conform to the Local Plan and should not undermine its strategic policies i.e. neighbourhood plans cannot promote less development then set out in the local plan.

Find out more about neighbourhood plans here.