Now that we’ve formally left the EU, we are in a period of transition, but at the moment there are no planned policy changes with regards to wildlife legislation.
This means business as usual for us at Habitat First Group with us continuing to protect and conserve wildlife on our sites just like before.
Each of our country estates has its own distinct set of planning conditions that cover nature conservation. Our commitment to long-term nature conservation management is one of the reasons that we were granted planning permission to develop an area of open countryside.
These conditions include the production of a Landscape & Ecological Management Plan (LEMP) for each estate and they are agreed in writing by the local planning authority. The plan includes all aspects of how we will manage the habitats and species on site. Any management issues relating to SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) are also approved by Natural England. The LEMP covers the entirety of each site from the villages to the wider Estate and undeveloped areas. The plan will remain in place for the lifetime of the planning permission.
Similarly, planning conditions state that we must undertake annual wildlife auditing to show the results of our nature conservation. This auditing also helps us to assess our aspirations for future biodiversity of the site, in particular that we are having no negative impact on the wildlife and habitats on our sites. Our audits have to be agreed in writing by the relevant councils and the audits are undertaken by independent surveyors to maintain transparency over the data. The results of this monitoring are used by the Local Planning Authority to measure the ecological success of the development and are a determining factor in the granting of further permissions.
Any restrictions on the timings of when we can run activities on site, from water sports to hedge cutting are all set by current wildlife legislation, the local authorities and Natural England and incorporated into the LEMP.
Our commitment is to meet these nature conservation conditions and maintain and enhance our wildlife at all stages of development. Purchasers of holiday homes at our estates are also tied into these conservation commitments through the land transaction and the service charge management.