Applied Ecology was commissioned to complete a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) of a 60 house residential development proposal on the outskirts of Kentford in Suffolk.
The HRA followed the completion of a preliminary ecological appraisal and protected faunal species surveys, also completed by Applied Ecology, to support a planning application for the development.
Farmland close to the development site is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and forms a component part of the Breckland Special Protection Area (SPA). The SPA supports a rare ground nesting bird called stone curlew Burhinus oedicnemus that uses open ground created by arable cultivation in the spring for nesting. The Breckland SPA supports 142 pairs of stone curlew that represents around 75% of the UK breeding population. The potential for the development to adversely impact the integrity of the SPA was highlighted by Natural England in their capacity as a statutory advisor to the local planning authority.
As part of the HRA, Applied Ecology examined stone curlew nest records, assessed existing disturbance patterns, mapped potential stone curlew nesting and feeding habitat within and surrounding the development site, and assessed the effect of increased residential recreational use of the SPA. Using our Geographic Information System (GIS) we were able to objectively assess that the development was highly unlikely to have any significant adverse impact on the integrity of the SPA.
Natural England agreed with our HRA, and planning permission was subsequently granted for the construction of a residential development consisting of 60 new homes.