Are councils taking notice of the new Habitats Directive – everywhere – except ‘Your Waverley?’

Despite election fever hitting a crescendo – remember – it is business as usual at ‘Your Waverley.’

Tonight (Tuesday) a Farnham councillor will call on the council to suspend the granting of planning permissions for more housing, in the light of more Government guidance on habitats regulations.

Jerry Hyman the councillor for Firgrove Ward will propose a motion calling for the suspension pending “appropriate assessment” of the heathland surrounding Farnham due to fears the impact new housing is having on wildlife and the environment in its Special Protection Area (SPA.)  This follows action already taken by other councils in the country.

Will the new coalition administration, which declared a climate emergency just weeks ago, back the motion? Or will it stick its head in the sand just like the former Tory administration has for more years than we care to remember?

We vividly remember one Cranleigh Tory councillor suggesting that Farnham’s problems could be sorted by Climate Change.  He predicted the Dartford Warbler, flying to the warmer climes in the North of England enabling more development in Farnham! 

The Cranleigh Warbler…warbling…

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Waverley Cllr  Jerry Hyman has been banging on for years, even ended up before the Standards Board – due to his insistence that the council was continually ignoring the Habitats Directive and forging ahead with development that is having a detrimental effect on Special Protection Areas including those in Farnham.

It has been a year since a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on the environmental impact of nitrates from new developments which threw plans for thousands of homes in England into doubt.

“The effect of [the ruling] is colossal,” says Seán Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council and chairman of PUSH (the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire), a group of 11 local authorities that says some of its members cannot grant planning consents for fear of breaching European Union habitats regulations.

“Planning in south Hampshire has ground to a halt.” David Hayward, planning policy team leader at Havant Borough Council, adds: “We deal with habitats laws as par for the course here as we’re in a protected area, but on this issue there was, and still is, no resolution.” Hayward and Tim Pike, Havant’s deputy leader and the councillor responsible for planning, regeneration and communities, are hoping a solution can be found quickly.

On November 7, 2018, the ECJ ruled in two joined cases related to the EU Habitats Directive, known together as the ‘Dutch case’ (C-293/17 and C-294/17). Its judgment raised the bar that development projects would have to clear when being assessed to see if they breached rules protecting sensitive habitats, such as EU “special protected areas” (SPAs). During these appraisals, known as “appropriate assessments”, promoters of such projects will often cite measures that they argue will mitigate any habitat harm. The ECJ judges said that assessors should not take these measures into account…

…”if the expected benefits of those measures are not certain at the time of that assessment”.

The decision has had far-reaching repercussions for developers. In June, wildlife regulator Natural England responded to the case, and other ECJ rulings by issuing new guidance to councils on compliance with habitats regulation assessments (HRAs) taking a much tougher stance. 

Tonight ‘Your Waverley will consider the following motion. Which if agreed could bring a moratorium on housing in parts of the borough.

  1. MOTIONS ON NOTICEIn accordance with Council Procedure Rule 12, Councillor Jerry Hyman proposes the following motion:

    “That the Council instructs Officers to

    1. (i)  reinstate the moratorium on the granting of consents to new housing within the visitor catchment zones of the Thames Basin and Wealden Heath SPAs (which was implemented temporarily from May last year), with immediate effect, and to
    2. (ii)  suspend the Waverley Avoidance Strategy,

(and to advise relevant developers and other interested parties as appropriate), until such time as the requisite evidence and appropriate assessments have been produced in accordance with all relevant legislation;

and in order to enable limited development to be lawfully consented through the ‘exceptions tests’ of ‘Habitats’ Art.6(4) and Reg,64,

that the Council further instructs Officers to write to Natural England requesting that they provide the information necessary for Waverley to conduct complete appropriate assessments of the Local Plan, Avoidance Strategy and relevant planning applications, to specifically include all currently available and relevant information evidence in respect of

  1. (iii)  the robustness of the current (2009) TBHSPA Delivery Framework strategy and SANG Standards,
  2. (iv)  population data and dynamics (historic to date, and trends) for the 3 relevant bird species, for the Thames Basin and Wealden Heath SPAs,
  3. (v)  the current Conservation Status, and the necessary specific Favourable Status Conservation Objectives for the habitats and species of those SPAs,
  4. (vi)  the measured effectiveness of On-site, Local and Strategic SANGs in displacing visitor pressure and disturbance from the SPAs to SANGs,
  5. (vii)  the extent to which SANG provision and promotion encourages dog ownership in the area over time, and
  6. (viii)  the measured effectiveness of the SAMM Strategy,

and if any of that requested information is not currently available, that Officers request that Natural England advises when that information is likely to become available.”



5 thoughts on “Are councils taking notice of the new Habitats Directive – everywhere – except ‘Your Waverley?’”

  1. Another reason to leave the EU toute suite!
    And the Dartford Warbler can go back to Dartford where it belongs
    It’s about time we put people’s housing needs before warblers like Jerry Hyman

  2. So if we can’t build in Farnham and Paul Follows is supporting reduced numbers in Haslemere under the changes to the Neighbourhood Plan, it looks like Godalming, Cranleigh and the eastern villages will have to up their numbers. Or do the Waverley Executive believe that more new homes are not needed?

  3. I think you have merged two different issues. The nitrates issue/ruling isn’t the same issue which has been concerning Jerry Hyman since about 2006.
    FYI, Hampshire thinks it has found a way to resolve the nitrates issue and Portsmouth district has now “suspended the moratorium” and others will follow.

    1. Thank you for this information on a rather complex subject. However, it would appear that the thames Basin Heath SPA will continue to be under pressure for the forseeable future and councillors of every political persuasion will continue to keep their heads in the sand – until the last bird has flown – North perhaps as the late Cllr Ellis hoped they would.

      As for Jim Edwards comments – th eastern villages are already taking 45% of all the development proposed in Waverley – so no doubt a few more will hardly be noticed. Perhaps Dunsfold Park could take a couple of hundred more?

  4. Under LPP1 policy ALH1 Haslemere is allocated 990. As the strategic policy document l believe that takes priority over the Neighbourhood Plan and so l don’t see how WBC can reduce Haslemere’s allocation just like that but then l haven’t actually seen or heard any statement from WBC that this is their intention.

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