Context and reasoned justification
The National Planning Policy Framework paragraph 170 requires planning policies and decisions to contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment.
The Neighbourhood Plan area contains protected wildlife habitats and species making wildlife movement within the area particularly important for biodiversity. These include two extensive Sites of Special Scientific Interest which border the town to the north and west (i.e. Devil’s Punchbowl and Bramshott and Ludshott Commons) which together with two other areas to the west constitute the internationally important Wealden Heaths Phase II SPA (see Fig 7a overleaf).
20 Sites of Nature Conservation Importance (see Fig 7b overleaf) fall either wholly or partially within the Plan area. Additionally, parts of the area fall within the two Biodiversity Opportunity Areas (ref Fig 7d page 44) of the Devil’s Punchbowl and Hindhead Heaths (WG04) and Chiddingfold and West Weald Woodlands (LW01). There are currently areas of woodland and grassland which could be designated as wildlife corridors and/or stepping stones in the future to support the movement of wildlife between these important designated sites. This has been included as an Opportunity in Section 5. There is a risk that new development may isolate wildlife and hinder its movement. Harm is likely to be caused by the introduction or enlargement of barriers such as buildings, roads, hard landscaping (e.g. tarmac, fencing) and artificial lighting, and by the re-direction of water sources or water courses that would affect the severance or narrowing of potential wildlife corridors.
This policy aims to preserve and extend the ecological networks and green infrastructure assets to assist the migration and transit of flora and fauna and increase local natural capital. It views SSSIs and SNCIs as ‘building blocks’ in the ecological network, to which wildlife corridors and stepping stones are essential in providing connectivity. The policy identifies and maps the local ecological networks, including the hierarchy of international, national and locally designated sites of importance for biodiversity, and the wildlife corridors and stepping stones that connect them, which have been identified by local partnerships for habitat restoration and creation, for example, Biodiversity Opportunity Areas.
H14.1 New development proposals should recognise the importance of maintaining connectivity between protected wildlife habitats (see Figs 7a-d pages 43 and 44) via identified woodland wildlife corridors and stepping stones. Proposals that create a risk to the migration of wildlife between these areas should demonstrate how this risk will be mitigated.
H14.2 Proposals for new developments within a wildlife corridor or stepping stone site within the Plan area will be resisted unless they are able to demonstrate how they will not cause harm and deliver appropriate net gains in biodiversity or a qualitative improvement to the ability of the wildlife corridor or stepping stone to support flora or fauna and to facilitate their movement. Net gains in biodiversity should be calculated with regard to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ Biodiversity Offsetting Metric and/or the Environment Bank Biodiversity Impact Calculator.
H14.3 New developments bordering a wildlife corridor or stepping stone within the Plan area must demonstrate how they will mitigate any significant harm to wildlife using the corridor or stepping stone.
Figure 7b: Map of Sites of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCIs)
Figure 7c: Map of Ancient Woodland Inventory
Figure 7d: Map of Biodiversity Opportunity Areas (BOAs)