Under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (commonly referred to as the Habitat Regulations) a Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA) is required for land use plans and for planning applications, which are likely to have significant effects on a habitat site.
The Essex Coast Recreational Disturbance Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy (the “Essex coast RAMS”) aims to deliver the mitigation necessary to avoid significant adverse effects from ‘in-combination’ impacts of residential development that is anticipated across Essex; thus protecting the Habitats (European) sites on the Essex coast from adverse effect on site integrity. All new residential developments within the evidenced zone of Influence where there is a net increase in dwelling numbers are included in the Essex coast RAMS.
The Essex coast RAMS identifies a detailed programme of strategic mitigation measures which are to be funded by developer contributions from residential development schemes.
The 11 Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) which are partners in and responsible for the delivery of the RAMS are listed below:
- Basildon Borough Council
- Braintree District Council
- Brentwood Borough Council
- Castle Point Borough Council
- Chelmsford City Council
- Colchester Borough Council
- Maldon District Council
- Rochford District Council
- Southend Borough Council
- Tendring District Council
- Thurrock Borough Council
The RAMS payment applies to all residential development within the Zone of Influence (ZOL). All residential proposals within the ZOL should make a contribution towards the measures in the RAMS to avoid and mitigate adverse effects from increased recreational disturbance to ensure that Habitat Sites are not adversely affected and the proposal complies with the Habitat Regulations.
Proposals for 100 dwellings or more will also require a shadow appropriate assessment to be submitted with the application, which assesses likely significant effects alone. This should clearly show how necessary avoidance measures are incorporated into the proposal. Payment of the RAMS tariff will address in-combination effects.
The alternative to paying the tariff is for applicants to submit a shadow appropriate assessment report, which includes details of bespoke avoidance and mitigation measures. This shadow appropriate assessment report must be prepared by a reasonably qualified person in support of the application and Natural England will need to be consulted.
There is a final draft of the Essex coast RAMS, which each LPA is taking to its elected members for approval. Each LPA has its own timetable of committee dates, therefore the RAMS will be approved by different LPAs at slightly different times.
The LPAs have also drafted a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) which will facilitate the delivery of the Essex coast RAMS. This is being reviewed by officers at each LPA and will be taken to elected members to seek approval for public consultation on the SPD. This consultation will take place during the summer of 2019 in accordance with each LPA’s Statement of Community Involvement. It is anticipated that the SPD will be adopted by each LPA in late summer 2019.
For further information on RAMS please contact Chris Harvey within the Ellisons planning team. The planning team can advise on the following planning matters:
- Section 106 Agreements
- Section 106 Variations
- Highway Agreements
- Infrastructure Agreements