Biodiversity surveys for most Jersey Planning applications under new draft rules

Sweeping Planning changes demanding full biodiversity surveys for hundreds of Planning applications each year have the potential to delay even minor projects – and could shut down work completely during bird nesting season.


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That's the view of Ogier's specialist planning and construction lawyer Claire Smith, who says that draft supplementary planning guidelines recently circulated demand full surveys by qualified ecologists on: any modification of a pre-1960s building; anything within 200 metres of the sea or a hedgerow; or anything within 200 metres of a garden larger than 500 square metres.

The new guidelines would also demand an ecologist's report on anything involving external lighting of a building outside the built-up area or within 50 metres of woodland.

Claire said that the rules went far further than comparable UK regulations – and that they would effectively cover the majority of homes in the Island.

Beyond the expense and delay caused by the commissioning of the ecologists' reports, she said that there was also a question of whether there were enough qualified ecologists to carry out the work – and further delays because the survey process could take more than a month, and because surveys could not be carried out at all during roosting/breeding seasons.

Claire said: "These additional regulations have the potential to add delay and extra cost to almost every application, and the people I have spoken to within the industry have serious reservations about them.

"People working in the construction and development industry today respect regulations and the importance of biodiversity, but the rules as drafted go too far, and will in many cases add entirely unnecessary delay and expense.

"While there needs to be some formal framework setting out when biodiversity surveys by ecologists are necessary, the proposals distributed should be withdrawn and replaced with a more practical and risk-based set of rules."

The information and expressions of opinion contained in this guide are not intended to be a comprehensive study or to provide legal advice and should not be treated as a substitute for specific advice concerning individual situations.