Draft Thanet Local Plan - 2031 - Pre-Submission Publication, Regulation 19

Biodiversity: International and European Sites

4.38 International and national legislation provide statutory protection for the most important nature conservation sites. These are Ramsar sites, Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) which form a network of Natura 2000 sites across Europe designated for their important habitat and/or birds. Most of the Thanet coastline is designated and is important for its intertidal chalk, caves, species (such as blue mussel beds and piddocks), dunes and mudflats, and certain migratory and breeding bird species.

4.39 Ramsar sites have been designated as wetlands of International Importance as a Waterfowl Habitat under the Ramsar Convention. This requires signatory governments to conserve wetlands and designated sites. Special Protection Areas are designated under Article 4 of the Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC on the Conservation of Wild Birds), which requires member states to take "appropriate steps to avoid pollution or the deterioration of habitats or any disturbance affecting the birds". Special Areas of Conservation have also been designated under the EU Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora) to provide increased protection to a variety of species, plants and habitats of importance to biodiversity both on a national and international scale.

4.40 There are currently six internationally designated sites within or adjacent to the District:

  • Thanet Coast and Sandwich Bay Special Protection Area (SPA)
  • Thanet Coast and Sandwich Bay Ramsar site
  • Thanet Coast Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
  • Sandwich Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
  • Margate and Long Sands SAC
  • Outer Thames Estuary marine SPA

4.41 Designations do not stop at the District boundary, nor do the nature conservation interest of the sites. For example the Thanet Coast and Sandwich Bay Special Protection Area and Ramsar extend into adjacent Districts. There are a number of other sites within or abutting East Kent which are located in neighbouring districts such as Stodmarsh (SAC, SPA, Ramsar) and the Blean Complex (SAC) and development proposals will need to consider their impact on these in line with Habitat Regulations. Thanet District Council and Canterbury City Council are working co-operatively to deliver a joint approach to mitigation.



Policy SP25 - Protection of the International and European Designated Sites

Sites of International Nature Conservation Importance will receive the highest level of protection.

Proposals likely to have a significant effect on an SPA, SAC or Ramsar site, either alone or in-combination, will be required to undergo appropriate assessment as per the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended). Where possible applicants should incorporate measures to avoid or mitigate any adverse impacts. Where, despite all possible avoidance and mitigation measures being put in place, a proposal is still shown to have an adverse effect on the integrity of an International site, planning permission will only be granted in exceptional circumstances, where there are no less ecologically damaging alternatives, there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest and damage can be fully compensated.

Where proposals are considered likely to have a significant effect on an International site, early consultation with Natural England, the Council and any other appropriate statutory consultees is recommended.