Ecology

Find out how we work to conserve our natural environment including protected species and habitats.

What we do

Northumberland has a very special natural environment and we want to ensure that any proposed development takes this into account to preserve and enhance our beautiful county.

We ensure that nature conservation matters are taken into account:

We also:

  • offer specialist advice where proposed developments affect the natural heritage of the county
  • encourage pre-application discussions to provide you with the information you need early on in the planning process
  • consider the impact of a development on both species and sites of ecological concern

In recognition of the importance of nature conservation, biodiversity is protected by a range of legislation and policies within:

Protected species

A range of species are protected under national and international legislation – find out which species we have in the county and what to do if you have any concerns about them.

Bats, otter, great crested newt, red squirrel, freshwater pearl mussel and water vole are among those species found in Northumberland that receive high levels of protection, but a range of other species receive a degree of legal protection.

All wild birds, their nest and eggs are protected.

Further information about protected species can be found on Natural England’s website.

A longer list of species and habitats are included in the government’s lists of species and habitats of principal importance in England, and all public bodies must have regard to the conservation of such species and their habitats. Natural England provide more details here.

Bats

All species of bat and their roosts are strictly protected. 

If you have bats roosting in your house and this causes you any concern or if you are planning to undertake any repairs or maintenance, you can call Natural England for free advice on their Bat Advice Line on 0845 1300228.

Further information on bats can be found here

Squirrels

If you have seen a red squirrel or a grey squirrel in Northumberland, Red Squirrels Northern England would like to hear from you.

There is an online reporting form and contact details on the Red Squirrels Northern website here

Protected sites

Sites can be protected in a number of different ways depending on their importance for certain species and habitats.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

These are legally protected sites of national importance for nature conservation.

Some of these receive additional protection under international law, through designation as Special Protection Areas, Special Areas of Conservation and Ramsar Sites.

Further information about designated sites can be found here

Local Wildlife and Geological Sites

These are non-statutory sites of county or regional importance, designated by a partnership of public bodies and wildlife organisations, including the council, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Natural England and Northumbrian Water.

Ecological surveys

Ecological surveys often need to be submitted with planning applications, so that important habitats and species can be taken into account in the planning process.

If a development proposal may have implications for important ecological features, the applicant will be required to commission relevant surveys and assessments.

This will enable the council to evaluate the impact of the proposal on these features, in accordance with the requirements of planning legislation.

If important features are likely to be harmed by the proposal, the applicants will need to consider the extent to which harm could be avoided by amending the proposal or, if this is not possible, the extent to which harm could be mitigated or compensated for.

Seasonal constraints

Many ecological surveys can only be undertaken at certain times of year, as many plants are only visible for part of the year and many animals are only active or resident in Northumberland for part of the year.

It is therefore very important that developers consult the council regarding ecological survey requirements as early as possible, so that seasonal constraints do not cause delays to work programmes.

Additional information

There are several organisations that also have a role to play in conserving our natural environment.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust is a charity dedicated to wildlife conservation and environmental education in Northumberland.

The Environmental Records and Information Centre North East is the ecological data centre for North East England. It collates and holds data which is used to inform nature conservation, and provides it to environmental groups, ecological consultants and others who require it for legitimate environmental purposes.

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs is the UK Government Department responsible for policy and regulations on environmental, food and rural issues. Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission and the Marine Management Organisation are all responsible to Defra.

Natural England is the public body whose purpose is to protect and improve England’s natural environment and encourage people to enjoy and get involved in their surroundings.

The Environment Agency is the public body with particular responsibility for flood management, water quality, waste management, pollution control and freshwater fisheries.

The Forestry Commission is the public body with responsibility for protecting and expanding Britain’s woods and forests, and for managing public forests.

The Marine Management Organisation is the public body responsible for marine planning, fisheries and marine regulation.

MAGIC is a Government web-based interactive map to bring together geographic information on key environmental schemes and designations in one place.

Cross Border Currents is the website of the Berwickshire & North Northumberland Coast European Marine Site.

The Environmental Records and Information Centre North East is the ecological data centre for North East England. It collates and holds data which is used to inform nature conservation, and provides it to environmental groups, ecological consultants and others who require it for legitimate environmental purposes.