Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:
Developers can provide mitigation by making a developer contribution to Bird Wise or by gathering their own evidence for a Habitat Regulations Assessment and implement the necessary mitigation measures in perpetuity. Bird Wise provides a way for new housing schemes to mitigate the impact of additional recreation on the north Kent SPA and Ramsar sites should the developer commit to paying the tariff set out by the Strategy. This makes it possible to conclude that a significant effect on the SPA or Ramsar site as a result of the development is unlikely and enables development to go ahead in compliance with the Habitats Regulations and enables developers to deal with the issue quickly and simply.
Alternatively, developers can gather their own evidence for a Habitats Regulations Assessment and implement the necessary bespoke mitigation measures in perpetuity (or demonstrate that none are required). Such an assessment would have to consider the impact of the proposal in combination with all other proposed development in north Kent. The cost of undertaking such assessment would be high and probably costlier than making a developer contribution to the implementation of Bird Wise. In most cases, it will not be viable for a development to provide its own bespoke mitigation package.
The Strategy deals with the disturbance impact on birds caused by additional recreational visitors to the coast arising from the building of new homes within 6km of the three Special Protection Areas (SPAs) of the Thames Estuary, the Medway Estuary and the Swale.
Evidence produced by consultants in 2012 found that 75% of coastal visitors travel 6km or less for their visit. This evidence demonstrates that additional dwellings built within 6km of the three north Kent SPAs is likely to have a significant effect on them. Larger residential developments have a larger zone of influence and will be dealt with on a case by case basis. The 6km zone covers the northern parts of Gravesham, Medway and Swale, and the far western coastline of Canterbury.
A developer contribution is required for every net additional dwelling, including new dwellings created through the subdivision existing dwellings and new dwellings created as a result of approval granted under the General Permitted Development Order i.e changes of use to residential.
Sections 73 to 77 of the Habitat Regulations explain the process for checking whether a Class O or other Permitted Development is likely to impact on a European wildlife site. If impact is likely, either alone or in-combination with other developments, then mitigation must be provided.
Some schemes, particularly those located close to the boundaries of the SPAs or Ramsar sites, may need to provide other mitigation measures in addition to making that financial contribution in order to ensure effective avoidance/mitigation of impacts on the sites. The local planning authority, with advice from Natural England, will consider the mitigation requirements for such development proposals on a case-by-case basis. Developers are encouraged to hold early discussions with the local planning authority on the mitigation needed for their scheme.
An annual report will be produced each year, detailing the spend for the preceding year and the budget for the coming year. This will be published on our website at birdwise.org.uk
Find out how you can help protect the birds that migrate to the North Kent coast.
Protecting The Birds