• Nevis

Has your existing Habitat Management Plan gone awry?

Habitat Management Plans (HMPs) are often included amongst other mitigation measures as part of a development proposal and may be a requirement for the granting of planning consents.

Why does my site need a HMP?

The aim of a HMP is to enhance the natural environmental interest of an area as well as to enhance habitats present or to mitigate or compensate for the impacts caused by a development. Such plans are of immense value to land agents and owners as it provides a comprehensive understanding of the biodiversity and ecological value of their land. HMPs generally accompany development proposals or may be in relation to Protected Areas and Designated sites such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), National Nature Reserves (NNRs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protected Areas (SPAs). HMPs are valid for the lifetime or a development and must be implemented to remain complaint.

Examples of conditions that may need to be implemented as part of the HMP include:

  • Installation of bird boxes, bat boxes or dormice boxes;

  • Planting of wildflower meadows/strips.

  • Tree and hedge planting

  • Blanket bog restoration

  • Pond creation.

  • Sensitive vegetation clearance.

  • Invasive plant management and control.

  • Grazing management and control

  • Tree and woodland management; coppicing, pollarding, tree thinning.

  • Ongoing monitoring.

HMPs are a ‘live’ documents; they should be subject to regular review and updated and amended as required or recommended as a result of ongoing monitoring. HMPs should be kept up to date so as to accurately reflect the conditions on site, and allow for additional management or monitoring where required.

“Even with the best intentions, HMPs can go disastrously wrong.”

What are the common issues seen with HMP implementation?

Even with the best intentions, HMPs can go disastrously wrong. Missed surveys, improper implementation, unrealistic goals written into the HMP, lack of specialized habitat knowledge or a lack of ongoing management or monitoring can lead to mitigation or enhancement measures failing.

Sometimes, HMPs are written and forgotten about until long after the works are completed; this became increasingly apparent after the removal of subsidies for onshore wind in 2016, when there was a rush to build and take advantage of the subsidies before they were gone. In such instances, sometimes HMPs were written and approved but promptly forgotten about until due diligence or similar proceedings highlighted the fact that these documents have not been implemented as agreed.

Failure to implement a HMP that is agreed as a planning condition will result in the project being non-compliant with its planning consent. Poor HMP implementation and management not only results in a potential loss of biodiversity but also has the capacity to significantly drive up economic costs in the long term if extensive additional management is required or non-compliance fines are applied by the planning authority.

What can Nevis do?

Nevis has considerable experience in writing and implementing realistic HMPs as well as taking over HMPs that have gone awry, whatever form that may take. We have a wealth of experience delivering all aspects of HMPs, including managing sub-contractors on your behalf and liaising and collaborating with other technical disciplines such as hydrologists, engineers and architects as well as consulting and negotiating with stakeholders.

Examples of how Nevis has taken over and rectified issues with existing HMPs include:

  • Monitoring and survey works to make the existing HMP up to date and relevant to the site condition.

  • Rewriting of an existing, inadequate, out of date, insufficient or irrelevant HMP to make it fully comprehensive and relevant to the site, as well as providing all the necessary information in one place for easy stakeholder access.

  • HMP is still relevant but has not been implemented on an already constructed site; surveys have been completed in order to update the HMP and start the process again from Year 1, with ongoing monitoring to keep the management on track.

  • HMP not comparable to ground conditions and written on incorrect assumptions; report is updated to reflect actual conditions, saving the stakeholders a considerable amount of money.

My HMP hasn’t been managed correctly - can Nevis help?

Firstly - everything is fixable.

Many clients have come to us with existing, inadequate HMPs; Nevis has resolved any existing issues and made the project compliant through monitoring, reviews and re-writes where applicable and ensuring our reports are fully comprehensive, flexible and site specific. We do all the work for you and remove all concern from the client.

Has your HMP been incorrectly managed? Get in touch with Nevis today and we’ll ensure you’re compliant and on track.

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