New planning guidance for developers is being drawn up to ensure wildlife is protected from additional human and dog visits generated by new housing developments – and the public’s views are wanted on the proposed strategy.
All 12 local authorities in Essex, including Tendring District Council (TDC), are working together to introduce the guidance to ensure areas of our coastline recognised as internationally important for bird life are protected from the indirect impacts of house building.
European Law gives special protection to the Stour and Colne Estuaries, Hamford Water and other areas of the Essex coast, and councils are duty-bound to ensure both the direct and indirect impacts of new development are assessed, taken into account and, where necessary, mitigated.
The Essex Coast Recreational disturbance Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy (RAMS) Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) will provide Essex councils with a consistent process to apply when dealing with planning applications, and help developers understand the measures they will be expected to put in place.
Under the Essex Coast RAMS, mitigation measures from Essex County Council, local councils and Natural England are set out to lessen the potential impact of developments, which are then funded by contributions made by those behind developments within Zones of Influences.
Measures will include rangers to help coastal visitors understand the importance of different species, work to encourage responsible dog walking, and visits to less sensitive parts of the coast, as well as creating new habitats.
Some Essex councils, including Tendring, are already requiring developers to make financial contributions toward the project but the SPD will formalise the process and set out in more detail how the money will be spent. A public consultation must be held on the SPD before it can be adopted.
Nick Turner, Chairman of TDC’s Planning Policy and Local Plan Committee, encouraged people to take part in the consultation.
“Thousands of birds come to the Tendring coastline to breed and feed, and new housing will lead to more people visiting the coast for leisure, such as dog walking,” Councillor Turner said.
“With an increase in visitor numbers comes the potential to cause more disturbance, and research shows this will affect the birds' survival unless mitigation measures are put in place.
“These measures come at a cost, and RAMS means that those who build homes pay to reduce the impact that housing will have on our coastal environment.”
The consultation on the Essex Coast RAMS SPD starts on 10 January 2020 and runs for six weeks, until 5pm on 21 February 2020.
Comments can be made via the consultation portal: https://consultations.essex.gov.uk/place-services/the-essex-coast-rams-spd
Alternatively, email your representations to: email@example.com or write to: Place Services, Essex County Council, County Hall, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1QH.
Any queries about the consultation can be sent to Place Services via the email address above or by phoning 03330 322130.