Ecological Planning & Research
Over recent years we have regularly been involved in the design & implementation of Green Infrastructure (GI) & in particular Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG).
Our Experience in GI
Green Infrastructure provision as part of the planning system has built up a head of steam in recent years, and is now commonplace in much of our work. EPR's experience in this area enables us to advise on the policy and planning implications at the project level, and our involvement in more strategic work gives us a valuable overview of the context of GI. As we have designed and implemented green infrastructure on many occasions as part of our project portfolio we also have first hand, on the ground experience.
Our ecologists are familiar with Natural England’s Guidance Documents and are practised in helping proposals to meet the aspirations of these within the practical and financial constraints of development.
We are particularly experienced in the design and delivery of SANG areas, which are usually required in order to draw in recreational visitors such as dog walkers, to protect nearby sensitive designated sites from increases in recreational pressure. Examples of these sensitive sites include the Thames Basin Heaths, Wealden Heaths and Dorset Heaths SPA, the New Forest SPA and SAC or coastal and estuarine sites such as those around the Solent, with important populations of wildfowl and waders.
EPR’s evidence on SANG was tested and upheld in 2009 in the landmark "Dilly Lane" High Court case; the first time that the principle of using SANG at the Screening Stage of the Habitats Regulations Assessment process to avoid negative impacts on European sites had been tested in this way.
Since Dilly Lane, we have been heavily and regularly involved in the design, testing and delivery of a large number of SANG and GI areas being brought forward by developments across the country to help avoid impacts on a variety of designated sites.
Our experience extends beyond planning and designing GI to include the capability to actually deliver and then manage GI areas, as well as providing advice on the long-term funding of such areas.
Well Designed Green Infrastructure
There are many advantages associated with the provision of well thought out and integrated Green Infrastructure. Well-designed GI yields many health, educational and other benefits for people; providing an opportunity for them to experience and benefit from the natural world ‘first-hand’, helping to foster better future stewardship of biodiversity assets. GI also offers a fantastic opportunity to create and manage new wildlife habitats and enhancements that can then be managed and sustained into the long-term to become valued local assets.
Our recent experience in this area includes the design and creation of several areas of SANG, including Langley Mead at Shinfield, near Reading. This project has been well received, and has been the subject of positive coverage both in the Local Press and from the Wildlife Trust.
If carefully considered and executed, GI provision can deliver ecological mitigation and biodiversity enhancement, as well as fulfil other functions such as flood attenuation and the provision of recreational space; maximising the benefits delivered to both local people and wildlife whilst also minimising land-take from a development area. We have been told by several clients, that they believe well designed GI improves the sale prospects of new homes, due to the more attractive environment in which they are then situated.