What the wildlife assessment check is

The wildlife assessment check is a way of assessing your proposed development before you submit your planning application. It checks whether:

  • any protected nature sites or wildlife species may be affected
  • if expert ecological advice is required, and;
  • whether more detailed ecological surveys need to be carried out.

From your answers, the check will highlight whether there may be any potentially vulnerable sites or species. For example, bats roosting in nearby woodland or birds nesting in trees that may be impacted by your proposed development.

The check will then automatically generate a summary of results as a downloadable PDF. This will indicate whether a more thorough ecological appraisal is required. The summary can be passed on to the consultant ecologist where surveys are required.

We have designed the wildlife assessment check so that you (the householder) or your planning agent/architect can complete it. It does not need to be completed by an ecologist.

Why you need to complete the wildlife assessment check

We are asking you to complete a wildlife assessment check to help protect existing wildlife and biodiversity in the city. Land use and changes to buildings can affect wildlife. Some wildlife species are protected by law. The council has a legal duty to consider how development affects them when assessing your planning application. Planning policies and planning guidance need certain information to be able to determine planning applications.

We require you to submit this information with your planning application. We can only validate your planning application with this information. If it isn’t submitted, your application cannot progress on to the next stage of the planning process.

If the wildlife assessment check indicates that an ecological survey is required, you should also submit this further survey work with your planning application. Again, we can only validate your planning application if you submit this information.

If a wildlife assessment check needs to be submitted for all proposals

A wildlife assessment check needs to be submitted for householder planning applications, such as an extension to your home or outbuilding, or for a loft conversion. 

Full planning applications that pay the housholder fee should also submit this check. They should submit this instead of the Full Planning Biodiversity Checklist. This includes planning applications for extensions or alterations to an individual flat. For example, those found within converted or purpose-built buildings.

A wildlife assessment check is not required if your proposal only involves:

  • air conditioning units
  • air source heat pump (or similar)
  • crossovers (dropped kerb) which don’t result in any newly created hard-standing
  • extract ducting
  • removal of fire escapes
  • roller blinds/shutters
  • fences
  • satellite dishes
  • garden walls
  • garden gates
  • windows
  • doors

You do not need to complete a wildlife assessment check if you are applying for a Lawful Development Certificate.

How to complete the wildlife assessment check

There are two different stages to completing the wildlife check.

Stage A: Check the biodiversity webmap

1. View the biodiversity webmap

2. Find your property using the search bar on the top of the map by adding your postcode or address

3. Use the plus and minus buttons on the left-hand side to zoom in and out and use the mouse to move around the map.

When you click on your property, a pop-up box will appear and show certain constraints at that site. For example, woodland, woodland buffer or Great Crested Newt Impact Risk Zone. Where there are multiple constraints for a site the pop-up box may say '1 of 2' or '1 of 3'. Use the arrow button on the top right of the pop-up box to scroll through the options. 

4. Click on your property to identify if it is located within:

  • the 'woodland buffer' - meaning there is a woodland within 200m of your property. 
  • the 'water buffer' - meaning there is a pond or other body of water within 250m of your property. 
  • either a red or amber risk zone for Great Crested Newt. You can disregard the results for Great Crested Newt if the results show that your property is in either the “white” or “green” zone.  

5. Make a note of the results

If you wish, you can turn the map layers on and off by using the first button, the 'layer list' button, underneath the search bar. This allows you to tick or untick any layers and may make viewing the map easier. The second button brings up the map key.

Stage B: Answer the questions on the wildlife check

  1. Go to the wildlife check on the Biodiversity in Planning webpage
  2. Scroll down the page and press the “start the tool” button
  3. Find your property using the postcode search, then click on the map to add a marker on your property. Then click the “next” button
  4. Select “Householder Project”; then click the “next” button
  5. Complete the questions based on your proposals, using the information gained from the map search where relevant.

Question: What type of works are being carried out?

These definitions will help you answer this first question:

  • Gable tops - these are the triangular upper part of a wall at the end of a roof
  • Eaves - this is the part of a roof that meets or overhangs the walls of a building
  • Weatherboarding - this is a series of horizontal overlapping wooden boards attached to outside walls
  • Hanging tiles - these are roof tiles that are attached to vertical walls for cladding or decorative purposes
  • Fascia boards - these are a long, straight board that run along the lower edge of the roof along the side of a building
  • Soffit boxes - these are commonly located between the main roof and walls of a building, or under porches, to cover the eaves and protect the rafters

Question: Are any of these habitats present nearby?

Use the results of the map search to answer these questions. For example, if the map search indicated your property is within 200m of a woodland, then check “yes” for the question that asks you whether woodland is nearby.

Question: Are you aware of any protected or priority species present within or adjacent to this site?

If you are aware of any protected or priority species, for example, Bats, Dormouse or Great Crested Newt, check “yes”.

  1. Once you have completed all the questions, press the “next” button
  2. Check you are happy with your answers on the summary page, then click the “finish” button.
  3. Download and save the PDF which will contain your results and indicate whether you need to carry out a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA)

If the wildlife check shows you need to have an ecological survey

You will need to find a qualified ecologist to carry out a survey. You can search for an ecologist on the CIEEM website. The ecologist will then carry out a ‘Preliminary Ecological Appraisal’ (PEA). This is a rapid assessment that will help to show whether any ecological issues will be significant. It will also state whether any further ecological surveys are required.

You can find more information on the different types of ecological assessment on the CIEEM website

If you need further ecological surveys, then the same ecologist may be able to carry these out. They can produce an Ecological Impact Assessment for you. A different ecologist may be required, depending on what needs to be done. Some species surveys may need different specialists to carry them out. Your ecologist will be able to advise you of this.

Some ecological surveys can only happen at certain times of the year. We have summarised this in Annex 4 of the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation SPD. This means there may be a delay to submitting your planning application whilst the survey work takes place.

If you do need to carry out a PEA or have an Ecological Impact Assessment, you must do this before submitting your planning application.

If the webmap shows that your property lies within a red or amber zone for Great Crested Newt

Great Crested Newt are one of many legally protected species that we have in the local area. Brighton & Hove City Council are members of the Naturespace District Licensing Scheme. This scheme provides an alternative way to carry out surveys and design mitigation should you find Great Crested Newt on your site. There is a Great Crested Newt map, which shows the red, amber, green and white zones. Naturespace produced this map and it is based on the presence of suitable habitat and conditions for this type of newt.

If your property is in a red or amber zone for Great Crested Newt it means there is the possibility that they could be present. However, it doesn't necessarily mean you need to undertake an ecological assessment for this species.

If your property development:

  • is within a red or amber zone,
  • has a nearby pond; and
  • is going to result in changes to either rough grassland, meadow, woodland, scrub, log piles, rubble piles or hedgerows

Then you or your planning agent/architect should consult Naturespace for advice on what to do next.

Please note, development on the existing footprint of the building, or existing hardstanding or lawn, is unlikely to need to consult Naturespace.

Definitions of suitable habitats

  • meadows and rough grassland - areas that are less intensively managed than mown amenity grasslands, and usually consist of longer or thicker flower-rich vegetation which acts as cover for newts
  • scrub - an area which consists of patches of shrubs or small trees up to about 5m tall
  • hedgerow - typically a line of continuous woody shrubs

Locally designated sites

The last section of your summary report includes some automatically generated text regarding locally designated sites for wildlife. It states that Local Biodiversity Record Centres hold this information. We are not expecting you to contact the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre to request this information. We will check against all relevant constraints, including Local Wildlife Sites, when assessing your planning application.

How to submit the wildlife check

Once you have completed the check, and any necessary ecological assessment work has been carried out by an ecologist, you can submit your planning application to the council. Be sure to include wildlife assessment check, any other ecological assessment work and any other information required, such as your site plan.

You should submit all this information on the Planning Portal.

What happens to the wildlife assessment check

Our planning validation team will assess the wildlife assessment check. They will make sure you have completed it correctly and that you have submitted all necessary information.

All the information then gets passed on to the planning officer allocated your planning application. They may need to seek further ecological advice from the County Ecologist at East Sussex County Council. This will depend on the content of your wildlife assessment check and any supplementary ecological information you provide.

Further information

The council has produced guidance which provides more details on biodiversity in the city. It includes examples of practical measures that you can incorporate within your development to help enhance local biodiversity. It explains the different type of assessment that you may need to support your planning application. It also provides a step-by-step guide for ensuring biodiversity is properly considered throughout the planning process.


Biodiversity and Nature Conservation SPD