The Thames Basin Heath SPA is home to 3 rare species of ground nesting birds. To protect these, the government has designated the Thames Basin Heaths as a Special Protection Area (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 Special Protection Area (SPA) by reading out Mitigation Mini Plan (PDF document.) The costs in the plan have been updated since it was first produced.
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 Special Protection Area (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 in August 2009.
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.
My land is within an SPA mitigation zone, what does this mean?
A series of mitigation zones have been established around the SPA to protect it against the impact of new development. The first zone is drawn at 5km from the SPA and the other at 7km. Parts of the borough lie within these zones. A map of these areas can be found in our Thames Basin Heaths FAQ (PDF document). For a more detailed search on your property, you can use our online policy map.
How does being in a mitigation zone impact on my development?
On gaining planning permission, you may need to make a financial contribution towards providing and maintaining suitable alternative natural greenspace (SANG). This particularly applies to development which constitutes an increase in the (net) number of dwellings in the Borough, or is within the 5km mitigation zone.
It is unlikely that you will have to contribute towards SANG if your development involves internal or external alterations that do not lead to a net increase in people living in the borough.
Any application that proposes residential development of one or more dwellings will need an Appropriate Assessment (PDF document.) This also includes applications for reserved matters and the renewal of full and outline planning permissions.
How will you assess planning applications in the mitigation zone?
We will follow Circular 06/2005: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation - Statutory Obligations and their impact within the Planning System for determining planning applications.
Further information on the Thames Basin Heaths SPA is available in the data form from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.