Phased Development EIA

A Case study of ‘subsequent applications’ and interface with the Habitats Regulations

 

There is great satisfaction to be gained from working on a project from inception through to delivery.  For some projects this timeline is relatively short, but for larger and more complex developments the process can be significantly more convoluted.

The Landmark Practice has been assisting since 2000 on the assessment and phased delivery of a major residential development in the south of England.

This case study focuses on the processes that have been applied to ‘subsequent applications’ for phased delivery.  It describes the technical approach to ensuring and demonstrating that Reserved Matters applications could be made in accordance with Parameter Plans set by the original Environmental Impact Assessment, and also measures to ensure compliance with the licensing requirements of The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations (2010) (the Habitats Regulations).

The Site

The site was previously under agricultural management and is not subject to any statutory or non-statutory designations. Two statutory designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) lie within 5 km from the site and there are several non-statutory Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) in the vicinity.

Habitat in the vicinity of the site is known to support a large population of a European Protected Species (EPS) and the site is linked to a nearby SINC via a network of habitat corridors.

Planning Context

Early phases of development were built out between 2000 and 2009 and a planning application for further phases, supported by an Environmental Statement, was submitted in 2012.  Landmark provided ecological survey and assessment services, and prepared the Ecology chapter of the Environmental Statement.  The planning application was refused by Members against officer recommendation, and subsequently taken by the applicant to appeal.

Landmark Practice Ecologists represented the client at the Public Inquiry.

The ecological matters considered by the Secretary of State centred on the adequacy of mitigation proposed by the Environmental Statement for loss of habitat supporting European Protected Species (EPS), habitat fragmentation and loss, and concerns about the cumulative impact of development on dispersal routes.

On these matters the Secretary of State allowed the appeal.  He concluded that the evidence provided by the Environmental Statement was robust and that the mitigation strategy for the site, shown to be effective by the previous phases of development at the site, could be anticipated to be successful in protecting the Favourable Conservation Status of EPS at the site and in the wider locality.

Phased Development EIA

In 2015 the applicant initiated effort to bring forward the Reserved Matters / ‘subsequent application’ phase of the 2013 permission.   The baseline information within the Environmental Statement which informed the Outline application and subsequent Appeal process was, at that point, between 1 and 5 years old and so required updating to ensure that it remained current.

Landmark was commissioned to update the survey information and provide an ecological statement to appraise and validate the latest scheme against the parameters and principles confirmed through the Outline consent granted at Appeal.

Review of Reserved Matters detail

The Reserved Matters scheme detail was systematically reviewed against the Environmental Statement that informed the permission.  The review concluded that, subject to the implementation of the proposed avoidance, mitigation and enhancement measures, which remain proportional and appropriate to the Reserved Matters scheme, no significant negative effects were anticipated either during construction, operation or cumulatively with the adjacent previous phases of development.

The result

The avoidance, mitigation and protection measures provided by the Reserved Matters detail demonstrated that the tests of the maintenance of ‘Favourable Conservation Status’,  as set out in The Conservation of Habitats Regulations, can be met.  The local planning authority can therefore be confident that there is no new reason, over and above matters considered by the original Environmental Statement, why a European Protected Species Mitigation licence should not be granted for the Reserved Matters details sought.

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