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Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA)

The Thames Basin Heaths SPA

The SPA is home to three rare species of ground nesting birds. In order to protect these, the Government has designated the Thames Basin Heaths as a SPA under the European Commission Birds Directive and placed mitigation zones around the heaths to lessen the impact of human activity on them.

For more information about the SPA please see our Frequently Asked Questions (PDF document) which contains a map showing the areas affected by this designation.

Mitigation Mini Plan

You can find in a greater level of detail about our plan to mitigate the effects of development upon the SPA by reading out Mitigation Mini Plan (PDF document). The costs in the Plan have been updated (PDF document) since it was first produced.

The Mini Plan looks at:

  • The legislative background to the Thames Basin Heaths SPA designation
  • The areas in the Wokingham Borough requiring mitigation
  • Implications of population change around the  SPA
  • Options to providing Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) (see below)
  • Calculation of the tariffs necessary to provide and maintain SANG
  • Our conclusions as to the approach that will be taken to mitigate new development

Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG)

SANGs are existing open spaces that have been identified for enhancement so that they can be made more accessible and attractive to visitors.

The hope is that by providing alternative areas for outdoor recreation, it will help reduce the impact on the SPA as new households can use the SANG, instead of the protected heathland.

A site at Rooks Nest Wood (formerly Rooks Nest Farm) in Barkham was approved for use as SANG on 19 August 2009.

The 18.5Ha site will provide mitigation for:

  • Up to for 1,000 new households that are within the 5km mitigation zone of the SPA
  • Developments of nine dwellings (net gain) that are within the 5km mitigation zone (but can be further from the SANG)
  • Larger developments within the 7km mitigation zone and 5km of Rooks Nest Farm

Full details relating to this site are contained in the SANG - Rooks Nest Wood advice note (PDF document). Work on this area has now begun.

Habitats Regulations Assessments

A Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA) (PDF document) looks at the likely impacts of implementing a plan or policy on a Natura 2000 Site such as the Thames Basin Heaths SPA.

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