Ecological Planning & Research
Residential development in the vicinity of European designated Special Protection Areas (SPAs) has the potential to impact ground nesting or coastal wading birds through increased recreational disturbance.
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EPR has been at the cutting edge of this issue, in the Thames Basin, Wealden, Dorset, New Forest and Solent regions, and we have developed numerous Impact Avoidance Strategies that have successfully unlocked the residential development potential on our client's sites.
The key component of such strategies is the provision of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) which provide additional green recreational areas that fulfil certain semi-natural criteria, in order to successfully draw new residents and existing recreational use away from the SPA, thereby avoiding any impact.
Over recent years we have regularly been involved in the design and implementation of SANG in line with Natural England’s SANG Creation Guidelines, to accommodate recreational needs whilst reducing recreational pressure on sensitive European designated sites and securing their protection. We have built up a reputation for designing SANG that satisfies Natural England, to the point where Natural England now recognises EPR designed schemes as being of high quality and are therefore more likely to be agreed.
Our experience includes some high profile cases. For example, EPR designed and
secured Natural England agreement for the proposed SANG at Dilly Lane, Hartley Wintney. Our evidence that the SANG would ensure no net increase in recreational pressure on the Thames Basin Heaths SPA was subsequently tested and upheld in the High Court – the first time that the principles behind SANG were tested in this way.
Although primarily designed as recreational space, we have also successfully incorporated significant biodiversity enhancements into many of our SANGS designs, which can be used as mitigation for other potential ecological impacts associated with a scheme; reducing land take from development whilst simultaneously securing ecological benefits into the long term.