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Local Planning Guidance Note No.32 - Biodiversity & Development

This is one of a series of local planning guidance notes amplifying local development plan policies and reflecting national legislation. This guidance note is intended to raise the quality and profile of nature conservation, protected species and biodiversity issues when submitting and considering planning applications.

This document will be treated as a material consideration in the determination of planning applications and relates to the following relevant policies of the adopted Wrexham Unitary Development Plan:

Policy PS2

Development must not materially detrimentally affect countryside, landscape/townscape character, open space, or the quality of the natural environment.

Policy PS11

Encouragement will be given to proposals which improve the biodiversity value of sites and to the establishment of local nature reserves where the nature conservation and landscape interest of the land will be protected and enhanced.

Policy EC4

Development proposals should provide for the conservation and management of hedgerows, trees, orchards, woodland, wildlife and other natural landscape and water features, and include new planting in order to enhance the character of the landscape and townscape. Development which results in the loss or significant damage to valuable trees, important hedgerows or ancient woodland sites will not be permitted.

Policy EC6

Development either within or close to sites of biodiversity interest will only be permitted where it can be clearly demonstrated that the need for the development outweighs the need to safeguard the intrinsic nature conservation value of the site. Where such development is permitted, damage should be kept to a minimum, and compensatory measures should be provided. Measures to improve the biodiversity value of sites and enhance their natural conservation interest and landscape quality including the establishment of local nature reserves, will be supported.

The Importance of Biodiversity

In 1992 the UK signalled a commitment to "conserve and sustainably use biological diversity for the benefit of present and future generations." Biodiversity is the variety and richness of all living things. It describes the number and variety of species of plants and animals within a habitat and also the diversity of habitats within an ecosystem. Biodiversity has economic importance, adds to our quality of life, contributes to local distinctiveness and also has an intrinsic value and worth. By conserving biological diversity now, we give future generations the option to value and benefit from it too.

Biodiversity in the County Borough

Wrexham County Borough possesses an extremely rich and varied array of habitats and species including an extremely dense occurrence of ponds which are of European importance supporting a diversity of important species such as the legally protected great crested newt. The open moorland of Ruabon and Esclusham Mountains are valuable habitats for many upland bird populations and are one of the most important areas for black grouse in Wales. Of particular value are the internationally important lowland meres and mosses sites, the most prominent of which is Fenns, Whixall, Bettisfield and Cadney Mosses National Nature Reserve, covering 948 Ha straddling the Shropshire and County Borough borders.

Many of the County Borough's rare species and habitats are protected by national and international designations. A summary of these and the legislation that protect them can be found in appendices 1 and 2. However, it is also vital that more common species and habitats are maintained and 1 that the contribution of farmland and urban spaces to support biodiversity are not overlooked. Wildlife corridors situated in built up areas or in areas used intensively for agriculture provide important continuous areas for the movement of plants and animals.

The Wrexham Local Biodiversity Action Plan provides the framework for local biodiversity action that will contribute to the delivery of national targets for key habitats and species, and the raising of awareness and understanding of the relevance of biodiversity.