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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 23/05/2006
Appropriate Assessment of the Core Strategy



APPENDIX F
Waverley Borough Council

Environment AND LEISURE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY Committee
23RD MAY 2006]
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APPROPRIATE ASSESSMENT OF THE CORE STRATEGY

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Summary and purpose:

Under the Conservation(Natural Habitats, &c) Regulations 1994, the Core Strategy of the Local Development Framework has to be assessed to ensure that it does not have an significant effect on the Special Protection Areas and Special Area of Conservation within Waverley. (These are wildlife sites of European importance). An Appropriate Assessment has been carried out and the conclusion is that the Core Strategy will have a significant effect on the sites, but this can be mitigated by enhancing the capacity of Farnham Park.
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Environmental implications:

The environmental implications of the Appropriate Assessment are that the possible adverse effect on the Special Protection Areas and the Special Area of Conservation of the Core Strategy (hereafter referred to as “the sites”), has been identified and it is considered that proper mitigation measures can be taken.

Social / community implications:

There are no direct implications .

E-Government implications:

There are no direct implications.

Resource and legal implications:

There is a considerable amount of joint working with other local authorities on this project
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Background

1. In October 2005, the European Court of Justice ruled that Appropriate Assessments (AA) had to be carried out on Plans. This was to ensure that such Plans would not have an adverse impact on Special Protection Areas and Special Areas of Conservation. In Britain, this means AAs have to be made on Local Development Frameworks and on Regional Plans (Regional Spatial Strategies). Most Local Authorities did not become fully aware of the implications of this ruling until the end of 2005. At that point, Waverley Borough Council was about to submit the Core Strategy to the Secretary of State, having gone through the whole process of producing the Core Strategy.
2. Therefore it has been necessary to delay submission while the Appropriate Assessment has been prepared. This process has itself been delayed because English Nature has only just produced the final draft of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area Delivery Plan, which sets out part of the context for the AA, and gives mitigation criteria that apply to the Farnham area.

The Special Protection Areas and Special Area of Conservation

3. Plan 1 of Annexe A shows the location of the Special Protection Areas and the Special Area of Conservation in west Surrey, called Natura 2000 sites. It is evident that there are extensive areas in the Borough. These are:

Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area
Wealden Heaths 1 and 2 Special Protection Areas
The Thursley, Ash Pirbright and Chobham Special Area of Conservation

4. The Special Protection Areas have been designated to protect the nightjar, Dartford warbler and woodlark, and the Special Area of Conservation protects the heathland habitat.

5. At present English Nature has only produced a Delivery Plan for the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. It puts restrains on housing development within 5km of the boundary of the site. This covers the whole of Farnham. No similar constraints apply to the Wealden Heaths Special Protection Area or the Special Area of Conservation as yet.

The Appropriate Assessment

6. The Appropriate Assessment document is attached at Annexe A. It sets out the reasons for the Assessment and the available guidance and then explains that there are four stages in the process of producing the AA.

Stage 1 screening for the likely impacts; Stage 2 if there is a significant effect, carry out an Appropriate Assessment; Stage 3 if there is a significant effect, consider alternatives in the Plan; Stage 4 if there is a significant effect, consider whether there is an
The outcome of the Stages

Mitigation – the Miniplan

7. The next report on this agenda sets out the Miniplan.. This is an interim approach to providing mitigation land in the Farnham 5km zone of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. Table 1 on Page 2 of the Miniplan document, shows the amount of mitigation land that is required by English Nature for development. The intention is that by providing additional open space for dog walking and walking new residents will be attracted to the mitigation sites and not to the protected areas. It shows that despite the problem of constraint on development in Farnham, it will, in fact, be possible to provide enough mitigation up to 2018 through the enhancement of Farnham Park.

Conclusion

8. The Appropriate Assessment shows that the Core Strategy may have a significant effect on the Special Protection Areas and the Special Area of Conservation and in particular will have a significant effect on the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area, but it will be possible to provide mitigation for the Farnham area.

Recommendation

9. That the Appropriate Assessment be approved and submitted to the Secretary of State with the Core Strategy .
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Background Papers ( DPD )

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.
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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Geraldine Molony Telephone: 01483 523296
E-mail:gmolony@waverley.gov.uk

G/Bureau/comms/O&S3/05-06/230506/098.doc