Policy ENV3: Thames Basin Heath Special Protection Area

Open22 Jan, 2024, 10:00am - 4 Mar, 2024, 11:59pm

Policy ENV3:  Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area

New residential development which is likely to have a significant effect on the ecological integrity of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA) will be required to clearly demonstrate that any potential adverse effects are fully mitigated.

For all net additional residential development within a 5km straight line distance of the SPA, relevant mitigation measures will be required in line with the Thames Basin Heaths Delivery Framework. This will include the provision of, or contributions towards, Suitable Alterative Natural Green Space (SANGS), and contributions towards Strategic Access Management and Monitoring (SAMM). Applications for large scale residential development (over 50 new dwellings) within 5-7km of the SPA will be assessed individually and, if needed, bespoke mitigation will be required in accordance with Natural England guidance and successors.

7.17 The Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA) is recognised under the EC Birds Directive and includes areas of heathland across Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire, covering 11 different local authorities. The SPA has been identified as an internationally important breeding habitat for three rare species of bird populations (Dartford Warbler, Woodlark and Nightjar). This policy seeks to avoid the impact of recreation and urbanisation on the habitat through increased population within close proximity of the SPA.
7.18 Natural England’s research suggests that increased population arising from housing developments at a distance of up to 5km away from the SPA can cause significant disturbance to the breeding success of these rare bird populations. Although the SPA does not fall within the borough, part of the 5km buffer zone covers the north east of the borough and this policy provides the framework for dealing with development proposals in this area. This does not exclude the requirement for other schemes (including non-residential development) likely to have a significant effect, alone or in combination with other plans or projects, to be subject to a Habitat Regulations Assessment.
7.19 The Thames Basin Heaths SPA Delivery Framework (February 2009) sets out the Joint Strategic Partnership Board (JSPB)’s recommended approach and provides further guidance with respect to the provision of SPA-related avoidance measures. This includes the provision of Suitable Alternative Natural Green Spaces (SANGs) as an alternative recreational area to the SPA. Within the 5km buffer zone of the SPA, schemes will be assessed for the need to provide developer contributions towards Suitable Alternative Natural Green Spaces (SANGs), in agreement with Natural England and the JSPB. The council will work with neighbouring authorities, in particular Hart District Council, to identify appropriate SANGs to be funded by these developer contributions.
Implementation and Monitoring

The policy will be implemented through:

  • Advice on, and the determination of, relevant planning permissions.