Habitats regulations

Habitats regulations requires us to ensure no significant harm comes to any protected European site.

European law

The Habitats regulations require that when making plans, such as the Core Strategy, or when determining planning applications, we consider the effects of new development on protected European sites and prevent any significant harm occurring to such sites.

Protected sites

There are three types of site protected by the Habitats regulations:

  • Special Areas of Conservation (SAC): These are sites designation for flora, fauna and habitats of international interest
  • Special Protection Areas (SPA): These are sites designated to conserve the habitats of protected wild birds
  • Ramsar Sites: These are sites designated as wetlands of global importance

There are two SACs in Lewes district, the Lewes Downs SAC and the Castle Hill SAC. There are no European protected sites within Eastbourne Borough.  In addition to the sites within Lewes district, there are another two nearby. 

To the east of the district and to the east of the borough lies the Pevensey Levels Ramsar Site and to the north of the district and to the north of the borough is the Ashdown Forest, designated as both a SAC and a SPA. We need to ensure that no significant harm comes to the any of these sites.

Habitats Regulations Assessment

When preparing plans such as the Core Strategy, we are required to undertake a Habitat Regulations Assessment (also known as an Appropriate Assessment) on the effect that a plan will have on the protected sites.

Ashdown Forest 7km Zone

The Ashdown Forest 7km zone affects a small part of the north of Lewes district. Lewes Core Strategy Policy 10 part 3 in respect of Ashdown Forest is our current policy approach being used to assess development proposals within 7km of the Forest in Lewes District. Larger development applications close to the 7km boundary will be considered in respect of our duty under the Habitats regulations to ensure no significant adverse effects on a European protected site. We will consult with Natural England on HRA screening decisions.

Within the 7km zone of influence the financial contribution to the Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Strategy (SAMMS) has now been agreed and is set at £1,170 per dwelling. You can download a Tariff Guidance Document below. Once it is finalised we will publish the Strategy on this page. The map below shows the 7km zone; it also shows the 15km zone that Wealden District Council is using to screen planning applications, Lewes is not using the 15km zone. However, if you are considering or promoting a proposal for a significant residential development that is within close proximity to the 7km zone we would strongly suggest that you contact us and/or Natural England to establish whether there will be a need for any mitigation.

April 2018 Update on Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) Provision - Implementation of the SANG

The 'Reedens Meadows' SANG, Newick, with the capacity to mitigate all development coming forward within Newick and our 7km mitigation zone for Ashdown Forest, is now fully implemented and open to the public. The Council is currently working on developing a SANG tariff to cover the long term costs of the ongoing maintenance and management of the SANG and is currently using a 'capped SANG tariff', of £5,000 per dwelling, until this is finalised. The contribution will be collected via a s106 agreement in a similar manner to the SAMMS contribution.