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

12 - Natural Environment and Green Infrastructure

12.1 Designated sites of international, national and local value and extensive areas of wetland and farmland habitat harbour both protected and priority species. Diagram 1 shows the hierarchy of these designations from international, national to local importance. International and European designations and protected species are addressed in policies (SP25 and SP27).

Diagram 1 - Hierarchy of Nature Conservation Designations

NC hiearachy 11-17

12.2 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) are nationally designated sites under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which have important wildlife or geological value. This Act as amended by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 imposes a duty on public bodies exercising statutory functions which may affect SSSIs, to take reasonable steps to further enhance the features for which the site is designated. The nationally designated sites (SSSI and National Nature Reserve), also cover the coastline, and have similar features to the international sites, including over 30 nationally rare species of terrestrial and marine plants, 19 nationally rare and 149 nationally scarce invertebrate species and roost sites for migrating and wintering birds. Thanet has two SSSIs which are Thanet Coast SSSI and the Sandwich Bay and Hacklinge Marshes, one National Nature Reserve at Pegwell Bay which straddles the District boundary with Dover. The Thanet Coast is also a designated Marine Conservation Zone.

Protection of Nationally Designated Sites (SSSI), National Nature Reserve (NNR) and Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ)

Policy GI01- Protection of Nationally Designated Sites (SSSI) and Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ)

Development which would materially harm either directly, indirectly or cumulatively, or detract from the scientific or nature conservation interest of a Site of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserve or Marine Conservation Zone will not be permitted.

Exceptionally, where it can be demonstrated that the need for the proposed development is compelling and overrides the national importance of the site, and it has been demonstrated that no suitable alternative site exists, mitigating measures will be required to maintain the integrity of the site, to the satisfaction of the appropriate authority.



Locally Designated Wildlife Sites

12.3 The District has habitats and geological features which are of local significance. These are designated as Local Nature Reserves, Local Wildlife Sites and Regionally Important Geological Sites. Thanet has two Local Nature Reserves located at Monkton and Pegwell Bay, and eight Local Wildlife Sites: TH01 Monkton Chalk Pit, TH07 St Peter in Thanet Churchyard, TH09 Golf Course Roughs Kingsgate, TH12 Woods and Grasslands Minster Marshes, TH13 St Nicholas-at-Wade Churchyard, TH14 St Mary Magdalene Churchyard Monkton, TH15 Ramsgate Cemetery, TH16 Cliftonville Grassland Foreness Point. These sites host locally important habitats.

12.4 There are also four Roadside Nature Reserves which have been identified for their habitats and connections to areas of rich biodiversity, and include important features such as calcareous grassland, lizard orchids and diverse populations of butterflies and dragon flies. These are TH01 Cliff Promenade North Foreland, TH02 Stonelees A256, Pegwell Bay, TH03 Monkton Chalk Pit, Monkton, TH04 Chalk Farm Flete, Margate.

12.5 The Council considers it important to protect locally designated wildlife sites and the following policy seeks to maintain the biodiversity and wildlife at these locally designated sites.

Policy GI02 - Locally Designated Wildlife Sites

Development which would have a detrimental impact on locally designated wildlife sites will not be permitted unless suitable mitigation can be provided either on or off site within Thanet. Exceptionally, where a strategic need for a proposed development is identified which outweighs the importance of the locally designated sites and cannot be located elsewhere, an equivalent area of habitat will be created elsewhere at a suitable location well related to other existing habitats.

Wherever possible and appropriate, new developments will include measures to enhance and improve connectivity to designated wildlife sites.



Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGS)

12.6 Regionally Important Geological / Geomorphological Sites (RIGS) are non-statutory Earth Science sites designated by locally based RIGS groups. Thanet has three Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGS) that are important for historical, scientific research or educational reasons. These are located at Monkton Nature Reserve, Pegwell Bay and St Peters Quarry. There designation is a way of recognising and protecting features for the future. The importance and significance of these sites are acknowledged through the following policy.

Policy GI03 - Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGS)

At RIGS sites, development which would result in the loss or obstruction of geological features of importance will not be permitted.