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Nature conservation sites and protected species - planning constraints

Any development proposal can impact on conservation sites and protected species, either directly or indirectly.

Guidance related to protecting biodiversity and conservation sites is contained within National Planning Policy Framework.

The following conservation sites exist in Dorset:

European designated sites

The following designations were established by the EC Habitats Directive 1992:

  • Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)

  • Special Protection Areas (SPA)


Any plan or development proposal which could affect these sites must be subject to an appropriate assessment under The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994. Unless the local planning authority, or another competent authority, is satisfied that there is no likelihood that the development would harm the site then planning permission cannot be granted.  Mitigation opportunities to assist residential development within 5km of these sites are provided by the Dorset Heathlands Interim Planning Framework.

National designated sites

Regional designated sites

  • Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGs)

Local designated sites

Protected species

Protected species include bats, badgers, reptiles, dormice, great crested newts, nesting birds, barn owls, water voles and otters. Development proposals must plan for biodiversity.

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