Guide Planning and Biodiversity

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4. Other Ecological Considerations (BNG, HRA, EIA)

Biodiversity Net Gain

Biodiversity net gain (BNG) was introduced in England via The Environment Act 2021 for major developments on the 12th February 2024 and for minor developments on the 2nd April 2024. Further information and guidance can be found on our Biodiversity Net Gain page and GOV.

Habitat Regulation Assessment (HRA)

Under the Habitats Regulations, the Local Planning Authority (LPA), considered as the competent authority, before deciding to give any consent which is likely to have a significant effect on a European site and is not directly connected with the management of that site, must make an appropriate assessment of the implications of a plan or project for the site in view of its conservation objectives. This is known as a Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA).

In the west part of the district the Exe Estuary and the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Special Protection Areas (SPA's) has a plan level HRA and mechanism for developments within the zone of influence to pay into a strategic fund to avoid undertaking an individual HRA. Individual assessment may still be required, e.g., for large developments with a need to provide Suitable Alternative Nature Greenspace (SANGs).

In the east part of the district there is specific HRA guidance for developments within Beer Quarry and Caves Special Area of Conservation (SAC) consultation zone boundaries.

The River Axe SAC is affected by excessive phosphorus input. Developments within the River Axe SAC are required to achieve Nutrient Neutrality before they can be consented. There is a specific calculator to determine how much phosphorus a development will generate and need to be mitigated for.

Applicants are required to provide EDDC with all the information necessary for EDDC to carry out the Appropriate Assessment.

Environmental Impact Assessment

An EIA is required for all applications where the development is listed in Schedule 1 of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017.

Developments that are listed in Schedule 2 of the above regulations, either above or below the thresholds, may require an Environmental Statement if it is likely to have significant effects on the environment by virtue of factors such as nature, size and location.

The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017, Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulation 2017 and the Town and Country Planning and Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 set out the circumstances in which the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required.

Under the provisions of the Regulations, an Environmental Statement will be required to accompany planning applications for major developments over a certain size where the development would have significant impacts, or where smaller developments would have a local impact of significance. An EIA may obviate the need for other more specific assessments. 

Where an EIA is required, Schedule 4 to the regulations sets out the information that must be included in an Environmental Statement. The information in the Statement must be taken into consideration when the local planning authority decides to grant planning permission. It may be helpful for a development to request a ‘screening opinion’ (i.e., to determine whether an EIA is required) from the local planning authority before submitting a planning application.

A development can also request a ‘scoping opinion’ from the local planning authority which sets out the scope and level of detail of the information that will need to be provided in the Environmental Statement. In cases where a full EIA is not required, the local planning authority may still require environmental information to be provided.

For more information refer to Environmental Impact Assessment - GOV.UK (