Environment and ecology

South Staffordshire Council has a duty to ensure that planning application decisions comply with the Habitats Regulations, ensuring the district's environment and ecology is kept as safe as possible.

Cannock Chase Special Area of Conservation (SAC)

South Staffordshire Council has a duty to ensure that planning application decisions comply with the Habitats Regulations. Local Plan policy EQ2 safeguards the Cannock Chase Special Area of Conservation (SAC), which has been designated for its unique heathland habitat.

Please note that applications which will be determined on or after 1st April 2022 for new housing which fall within a 15 kilometre radius Zone of Influence for the Cannock Chase SAC will need to provide mitigation. This mitigation will take the form of a monetary payment of £344.01 per dwelling and a single legal administration fee of £100 per agreement, but applicants should ensure they review the latest SAC guidance before submitting an application. A draft unilateral agreement must accompany all planning applications where required (see Appendix 2 of the Guidance).

SSDC Cannock Chase SAC Guidance 1st April 2022 

SAC Partnership MoU 2022 

Cannock Chase SAC FAQ

Draft Template - Unilateral Undertaking SAC

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Great Crested Newt Licensing

If a site has been identified as falling within an Impact Risk Zone on Staffordshire wide Great Crested Newt habitat map, there is a high likelihood of great crested newts being present within the site.

To address this matter two routes are available, which need to be addressed prior to validation of a planning application. Either by using the Council's District Licence - delivered by NatureSpace. Please visit the NatureSpace website for more information, or contact them on info@naturespaceuk.com.. Or by a standard survey & licence route. You can commission a seasonal survey of ponds and suitable habitats on and around the development site to ascertain potential impacts on great crested newts. The survey work must be carried out by an appropriately experienced and licensed ecologist.

Presence of Greater Horseshoe Bats in South Staffordshire

Greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) has been recorded in the county of Staffordshire for the first time. The species was recorded in the north of South Staffordshire district by an ecological consultancy in October 2020, and subsequently detailed in a planning report in late 2023. This brought the record to the attention of South Staffordshire Council’s planning ecologist.

The record is certainly one of the most recent northerly records of greater horseshoe bat in England. Liaison with adjacent county biological records centres in Shropshire and Leicestershire indicate that greater horseshoe bat may be expanding its range further north as the most recent northerly records of the species for each county are no more than c.20km north/south of one another.

The greater horseshoe bat is an Annex II species, meaning it is legally protected and is listed amongst other species as being of the utmost conservation importance at a European level. The distribution of the species, though undoubtedly changing in recent years, is generally centred around the south-west of England and Wales; though colonies in North Wales and Sussex are also known.

The presence of the smaller horseshoe species, the lesser horseshoe bat (R.hipposideros) has been known in South Staffordshire for some time, with the species distribution largely being confined to the southern extent of the district. It is therefore very surprising that the first record of the greater horseshoe bat was recorded so far north in the district of South Staffordshire at the very edge of its range in England.

In light of this finding, South Staffordshire Council are making developers aware of the presence of this species in the district and the potential presence of other more southerly species such as barbastelle when undertaking their ecological assessments. As greater horseshoe bats are highly light sensitive and vulnerable species there will be a greater emphasis on the retention/creation of dark corridors on development schemes to ensure the continuity of ecological connectivity through the landscape for this species, as well as for other nocturnal species. It is vitally important that the potential expansion of an Annex II vulnerable species into the county of Staffordshire is taken seriously in future ecological assessments and scheme designs, to give this species it’s best possible chance at establishing and maintaining colonies in Staffordshire in the future. 

The expansion of a species range is a natural process, however the presence of what is generally considered to be a southern species in Staffordshire speaks to the possibility of species behaviour and distributions changing as a result of our changing climate. South Staffordshire Council is committed to ensuring that development first retains important habitat connectivity and diversity, but also that it provides tangible enhancements to the natural environment to ensure that our most important and vulnerable species are more resilient to the impacts of climate change in the future. 

For more information on our native bat species, please visit the Bat Conservation Trust website. If you would like to get involved in bat conservation in Staffordshire, the Staffordshire Bat Group is an excellent place to start, their website can be found here: Staffordshire Bat Group | Staffordshire |Bat Conservation (staffsbats.co.uk)

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