1. Has the decision been based upon up-to-date information about the environmental characteristics of the area?
  2. Has regard been had to the purpose of conserving biodiversity as required under S40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006?
  3. Even if a development site is not statutorily protected, does it nevertheless contribute to a network of natural habitats which, because of their linear and continuous structure, or their functions as stepping stones, are essential for migration, dispersal and genetic exchange?
  4. Will the proposal maintain, enhance, restore or add to biodiversity and geological interests within the wider community as required by PPS9?
  5. Would the proposal lead to the loss or deterioration of ancient woodland? If so are the benefits of the proposal sufficient to outweigh this loss or deterioration?

Protected sites

  1. Is the development site subject to an international, national or local designation? Has reference been made to the designation in the decision?
  2. Does the development site fall within, adjacent to or near a European site (Special Protection Area, Special Area of Conservation, candidate Special Area of Conservation), an international site (Ramsar Site) or a potential Special Protection Area?
  3. If so, have the following tests been applied, as required under the Habitats Regulations:
  4. a. Is the proposal directly connected with or necessary for the management of the protected site.

b. If not, can it be objectively determined that it would be unlikely, alone or in combination with other plans and projects, to have a significant effect on the protected site?
c. If not, has an appropriate assessment (AA) been undertaken?
d. Does the AA establish that the development would not adversely affect the integrity of the protected site?
e. If not, can the adverse effects be minimised or avoided by imposing appropriate conditions or through a valid S106 obligation?
f. If not, are there alternative solutions which would have no or a lesser effect on the integrity of the protected site?
g. If not, are there imperative reasons of overriding public interest to justify permitting the development?
h. If so, can all necessary compensatory measures to ensure the overall coherence of the network of internationally protected sites (Natura 2000) be put in place?

  1. If the appeal site could potentially have an impact on a nationally designated site e.g. Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), is the proposal likely to damage the protected site’s special interest features? If so are the benefits of the proposal sufficient to outweigh this harm?
  2. If the proposal would have an impact on a local site would it significantly undermine the intrinsic scientific interest of the protected site and/or reduce the opportunity it provides for contact with and enjoyment of nature and a resource for learning about the natural world? If so are the benefits of the proposal sufficient to outweigh the harm?

Protected species

  1. Is there evidence to suggest that there is a reasonable likelihood of protected species (PS) being present on or near the site and is there a risk they may be adversely affected by the proposal?
  2. If so, has a survey been undertaken (recently)? If not, the appeal should normally be refused as it will not be possible to ascertain the likely impact on the species.
  3. If a survey has been undertaken, can it be determined that the proposal would not have an adverse affect on the PS?
  4. If it would potentially have an adverse impact could this be over come by any proposed mitigation measures?
  5. Can such measures be secured through the imposition of conditions or has a valid section 106 obligation been submitted which would ensure such measures are implemented?
  6. If you have concluded that the proposal would result in a breach of the protection afforded to European protected species (EPS), have you had regard to the 3 tests that the licensing authority must consider in deciding a licence application?
  7. If you propose to grant planning permission, are you satisfied that there are sufficient grounds to justify this? Are these grounds clearly expressed in the decision? In particular, if there would be harm to the PS/EPS does the decision identify how this would be mitigated? If it cannot be mitigated have you clearly identified the overriding reasons for granting PP in breach of the Regulations?