Personal Reference Number: 73
Representation Number: 225-232
Policy/ Paragraph/ Page of the Core Strategy: CSP 4 and paragraph 6.34
Written Representation by Robert Duff, Natural England, Attingham Park,
Shrewsbury Shropshire SY 4 4TW
Matter 9 – Design and environment
(e) Does it deal satisfactorily with the Ramsar sites and other
Black Firs and Cranberry Bog and Betley Mere which are situated on the western
edge of Newcastle Borough are both designated as SSSIs and also form part of the
Midlands Meres and Mosses Ramsar site. ODPM Circular 06/2005 ‘Biodiversity and
Geological conservation – Statutory obligations and their impact within the planning
system’ which accompanies PPS 9 provides advice on Ramsar sites listed under
the provisions of the Ramsar Convention on wetland of international importance.
Paragraph 5 part 1 indicates that as matter of policy, the Government, in order to
meet its obligations under the Ramsar Convention, has chosen to apply the
procedures set out in Part 1 of ODPM 06/2005 in relation to the Habitat Regulations
even though these are not European sites as a matter of law.
PPS 9 paragraph 6 reiterates that listed Ramsar sites receive the same protection as
SPA and SACs designated under the Habitat Regulations as a matter of policy and
not as a legal requirement.
PPS 9 paragraph 6 indicates that since international sites enjoy statutory protection
specific policies should not be included in the LDDs. It is our contention that this
situation should not necessarily apply with respect to the very small number of sites
that are listed as Ramsar sites alone, including Black Firs and Cranberry Bog, as
they do not in fact enjoy statutory protection. The statement in PPS 9 paragraph 6 is
however appropriate for the vast majority of the other listed Ramsar sites nationally,
to which an SPA or SAC designation also applies to over the same or similar area.
Since the Ramsar sites in Newcastle do not enjoy statutory protection, it was
considered that a specific policy in respect of Black Firs and Cranberry Bog, given its
vulnerability to inappropriate development in the drainage catchment was advisable
for inclusion in the local development document in order to provide clarity over the
protection afforded. This accords with key principle 1. (ii) of PPS 9. Accordingly we
put forward a suggested addition to Policy CSP 4 subsequently included by the local
authority by way of an addendum to the Core Strategy as paragraph 5. The
proposed addition to paragraph 3.4 on page 98 also included in the addendum
provides the background to this proposed policy.
It appears to us that the proposed CPS 4 paragraph 5 is consistent with paragraph
4.32 of PPS 12. This indicates that there may be local reasons for having greater
detail than national or regional policy provides for i.e. local circumstances which
suggest that a local interpretation of higher-level policy is appropriate.
Nationally Designated Sites
The protection afforded to SSSIs is set out in PPS 9 paragraph 1(ii), 7 and 8.
Paragraph 1 (ii) indicates that in taking decisions LPAs should ensure appropriate
weight is attached to designated sites of national and international importance.
Paragraph 7 indicates that SSSIs should be given a ‘high degree of protection under
the planning system through appropriate policies in plans’. Paragraph 8 sets out that
development likely to have an adverse effect on an SSSI should not normally be
With respect to coverage in Policy CSP4, SSSIs are included in the list of natural
assets which will be protected, maintained and enhanced. It goes on to indicate that
this will be achieved through achieving significant improvements to the condition of
SSSIs (paragraph 2) and by ensuring location, scale and nature of development
minimises any unavoidable impacts upon SSSIs (paragraph 3).
Thus under CSP4 developments likely to have an adverse effect on SSSIs would be
permissible provided the impacts could be shown to be unavoidable. This could
result in regular instances, for example, of developments being permitted, which
after best practice mitigation measures have been adopted, unavoidably (because
there is no reasonable alternative location for drainage nearby) discharges harmful
drainage waters into a watercourse leading to a sensitive wetland SSSI.
By comparison the application of PPS 9 paragraph 8 would mean such
developments would not be permitted except in exceptional circumstances where the
benefits of the development at that location clearly outweighed the effects on the
features of the SSSI.
Accordingly it can be argued that the protection afforded to SSSIs contained in the
Core Strategy policy CSP4 paragraph 2, represents a lessening of that set out in
(g) What are the implications for soundness of the Natural England Comments
on the Appropriate Assessment screening report? Do the potential impacts of
diffuse air pollution require changes to the CS?
Natural England commented in a letter dated 24 June 2008 to Newcastle –under-
Lyme Borough Council on the draft appropriate assessment screening report
marked April 2008 (Appendix 2 in Document CCD3). In our letter we queried in
relation to diffuse air pollution whether or not sufficient information and evaluation
was included to demonstrate that their conclusion of no reasonable effect was
Following this a meeting between Natural England and representatives of Newcastle
and Stoke planning authorities was held on 21 July 2008 to discuss how the issues
raised relating to the screening report could be addressed.
Following this an amended Screening Report marked July 2008 was submitted to
Natural England. This included a revised assessment of the likely significance of the
Core Strategy in relation to diffuse pollution in tables 3, 4 and 5. This covered both
alone and, for the first time, in combination effects. In particular it covered how the
growth planned is separated from the international sites and how the Local Transport
Plan includes a package of measures which seeks to achieve improving air quality.
On the basis of the revised and improved assessment of air quality impacts and
other improvements made to the screening report, we advised via an email dated 15
August (Appendix 2 in Document CCD3) that we were satisfied with the conclusion
of the screening report that the Core Strategy was unlikely to have a significant effect
on international conservation sites. Hence we have not recommended changes to
the Core Strategy with respect to diffuse pollution.
Notwithstanding this it is relevant in considering this matter regarding air quality and
sensitive ecosystems to take account of proposed regional Policy SR4 and
supporting text 2.31 - 2.33 contained the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy
Phase Two Revision – Draft Preferred Option report (RSS/002) dated December
2007. Paragraph 2.33 indicates that all LDDs should include policies to improve air
quality and reduce the levels of emissions as set out in the National Air Quality
Were it to be considered that changes to the Core Strategy are necessary it would
be reasonable for such changes to be consistent with proposed policy SR4.