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NC3  The Protection of Sites of National Importance For Nature Conservation  Policy

Development proposals likely to affect, directly or indirectly, sites of national importance for nature conservation will be subject to special scrutiny and will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that the reasons for the development clearly outweigh the nature conservation or earth science value of the site and the national policy to safeguard the national network of such sites.

Where such development proposals are to be approved, the Local Planning Authority may impose planning conditions and/ or planning obligations to secure the protection and enhancement of the site’s value for nature conservation or earth science. In this respect the Local Planning Authority will need to be satisfied that:

(i) the development proposals are sited and designed in such a way as to conserve the integrity of the site;

(ii) adequate provision has been made to minimise the potential for damage or injury to any part of the site during construction and after the development proposed is occupied; and

(iii) adequate measures have been taken in order to safeguard compliance with these requirements and where appropriate to provide for the reinstatement of damaged areas.

Reasoned justification :

13.14 Policy NCO1 provides for the protection of sites which can be demonstrated to have national importance for nature conservation or earth science. These sites are designated by English Nature under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and are subject to additional legal controls, outside the Town and Country Planning Acts, which are intended to preserve special features from damage. As planning consent can, under certain circumstances, override this protection, national planning policy guidance recognises that provision for their continued protection also needs to be incorporated within the UDP.

13.15 Policy NC3, therefore, sets out the criteria that the Local Planning Authority will normally apply when considering proposals which may affect such sites. This specifically includes proposals which, although located outside an area designated for protection, may, owing to their nature or proximity, have direct or indirect implications for the continued preservation of the relevant feature, habitat or species. Policy NC3 does not, however, exclude the prospect of development altogether. Consistent with national planning guidance, only proposals which would cause significant and irreversible damage to features specifically designated for protection will be restricted. This will, therefore, only apply to proposals where damage would be inevitable, or where it could not be adequately prevented by measures such as planning conditions, management agreements or other legal controls.