Statutory duties regarding North Somerset & Mendip Bats Special Area of Conservation (SAC)

When developments are proposed that could affect any SAC, Sedgemoor District Council has a statutory duty to consult Natural England and to consider whether there might be damage to a species or habitat for which the site is important.  This applies even if the proposed works are outside the site boundary. 

N.B. Everything listed in the SAC citation is protected, not only bats: 

  • limestone grasslands and scrub, supported by the

  • Cheddar Complex SSSI

  • ash-lime woodlands on the slopes, screes and ravines

  • Lesser and Greater horseshoe bats

  • caves not open to the public

Grounded on and in the Cheddar Complex SSSI,  the North Somerset & Mendip Bats SAC is  part of the European Natura 2000 network of nature protection areas,  "the centrepiece of EU nature & biodiversity policy."  

"The aim of the network is to assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats."   SACs are strictly protected under the Habitats Regulations, which normally require that permission can only be granted if there will not be any damage to the SAC's listed wildlife and habitats.   pdf

Natural England's statutory duty is to ensure that SACs are managed favourably for conservation and in keeping with the Habitats Regulations.  Natural England even has a statutory duty to review existing consents on SACs to ensure that activities currently permitted will not damage the European wildlife interest.  

Natural England's written permission is required before carrying out any of the operations listed as likely to be damaging to any of the wildlife species or habitats in the SAC. 

Note that there are also other protected wildlife species, and other national and local legal constraints arising from the AONB, NPPF and Core Strategy.

See also National Planning Policy page on this website

4 February 2013