12. Nature Conservation

12.1.

Introduction

Natural habitats, wildlife and geology are important aspects for a good quality of life in Thanet. The protection of these natural assets not only encourages wildlife to flourish, but also provides opportunities for recreation and education.

12.2.

The importance of nature conservation in this District is reflected in the number of different designations: internationally important Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), a Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site; nationally important Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs); Sites of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI) which are of County Importance; and Regionally Important Geological/Geomorphological Sites (RIGs).

12.3.

These are all areas of great value because of their undeveloped condition and nature conservation or geological interest, and have therefore been designated either under Central Government legislation or by County or District Council planning policy. They are, by their nature, environmentally sensitive and deserve long-term protection from non-essential development.

OBJECTIVES:

  1. TO MAINTAIN THE FULL RANGE OF NATURAL HABITATS AND GEOLOGICAL SITES IN THE DISTRICT, INCLUDING THOSE IDENTIFIED IN THE KENT HABITAT SURVEY 2003, AND ANY OTHER KNOWN SCIENTIFIC OR WILDLIFE INTERESTS;
  2. TO RESIST DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD BE LIKELY, EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, TO DAMAGE OR DESTROY THOSE SITES AND INTERESTS, UNLESS THERE ARE COMPELLING AND OVERRIDING REASONS OF PUBLIC INTEREST WHY THE DEVELOPMENT SHOULD TAKE PLACE ON A PARTICULAR SITE;
  3. WHEREVER POSSIBLE, TO ENHANCE THE NATURE CONSERVATION AND HABITAT RESOURCE OF THE DISTRICT; AND
  4. TO ENCOURAGE AND PROMOTE THE EDUCATIONAL VALUE, AND PUBLIC ENJOYMENT, OF THE WILDLIFE HABITATS AND GEOLOGY OF THE DISTRICT THROUGH THE DECLARATION OF LOCAL NATURE RESERVES AND OTHER SIMILAR MEASURES.
12.4.

Strategic Background

The Bio-Diversity Convention signed by the United Kingdom at the UN Earth Summit emphasises the value of nature conservation to the protection of the planet's finite resources.

12.5.

Within this context, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Planning Policy Statement 9 – Biodiversity and Geological Conservation gives advice in respect of the protection of sites of nature conservation value from local sites of nature conservation interest to important sites designated under the internationally recognised Ramsar Convention, The Habitat Directive and the Birds Directive.

12.6.

The best national examples of natural habitat and physical features are notified by English Nature as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, English Nature must be consulted in respect of any proposal which is likely to damage the interests of those sites. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW) provides significant new powers for site protection. English Nature must be given notice of any proposals that would affect an SSSI, even if it would take place outside the SSSI. Under CROW, Thanet District Council has comprehensive new duties with respect to its own activities and activities that it may permit others to undertake on or affecting SSSI. This includes a duty to take reasonable steps, consistent with the proper exercise of its functions, to further the conservation and enhancement of the features for which the site is of special scientific interest.

12.7.

The EU Habitats Directive also provides for the designation of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), as part of a European network of habitats, to be known as "Natura 2000". There are two SACs in Thanet, which cover most of the coastline of the District. SSSIs may also be designated as Special Protection Areas under the EC Wild Birds Directive, and as Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.

12.8.

However, these statutory designations cannot protect the full diversity of wildlife on their own. If wildlife is to continue to be seen and enjoyed throughout Britain, nature conservation must be an integral part of the processes which are shaping our modern environment - instilled into the planning, management and use of land as a whole.

12.9.

The potential effects of a development on habitats or species listed as priorities are capable of being a material consideration in the making of planning decisions. Section 74 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 places new duties on the Government in respect of the conservation of
biodiversity. The Secretary of State has produced a list of habitat types and species comprising those identified as priorities under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Under the remit of PPS9, the Council is required to conserve important natural habitat types that have been identified in the countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 section 74 list, as being of principal importance for the conservation of biodiversity, and identify opportunities to enhance and to add to them.

12.10.

To conserve and enhance the biological diversity in Kent is the main goal of the Kent Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). This plan was endorsed by the District Council in 1997 and is the first step in the County’s response to the Governments “Biodiversity; The UK Action Plan”. The Kent BAP summarises information that is currently available with regard to the county’s biodiversity and considers habitats including the coast and in urban areas. Species and habitats that are most under threat are identified and targets for the future have been set. However, it is not just areas that are most under threat that are considered, but those that are “…commonplace…” as well. The policies that are set out in this chapter have been considered against the objectives of the Kent BAP.

12.11.

Ecological conservation and enhancement constitute one of the main aims of the Kent Countryside Strategy. The Strategy, which provides a framework for partnership between the County and District Councils and other bodies, seeks to achieve conservation and enhancement of landscape and ecology through the following objectives:

  1. Countryside management with farmers, landowners, local businesses and voluntary groups;
  2. Compilation of a database of nature conservation and landscape resources as a basis for future decision making and management measures; and
  3. Production of guidelines for the protection and enhancement of landscape and nature conservation sites.
12.12.

Thanet Context

It is important to recognise the unusual ecological context of the Isle of Thanet. Most of the Thanet Coast (with the exception of Viking Bay, Broadstairs and some areas around Ramsgate Harbour) is covered by statutory nature conservation designations. These include two Sites of Special Scientific
Interest, two candidate Special Areas of Conservation, and the Thanet Coast Special Protection Area, and Ramsar Site.

12.13.

The Thanet Coast has also been identified by English Nature as one of the 27 most sensitive marine areas in England. The District Council recognises that these sites require long-term protection from damaging development.

12.14.

However, the District Council also recognises that Thanet's coastline is a major tourism and economic asset, in an area suffering from long-term decline in tourism and economic performance. Thus there may be exceptional circumstances in which the economic development interest overrides the ecological interest. This unique situation is acknowledged in each of the relevant policy statements.

12.15.

The District Council considers that such situations are likely to be very rare, and the related policy statements should not in any way be regarded as providing justification for development which do not fall into this exceptional category.

12.16.

There are very few, if any, other areas in the District which enjoy statutory protection from development likely to adversely affect their nature conservation interest.

12.17.

Thanet's agricultural landscape is largely treeless, and generally cultivated right up to the edges of  the built-up confines. As a result of strategic policy, the provision of infrastructure and other factors, considerable pressure for new development will be focused within the existing built-up areas. Consequently, those areas of natural habitat which do exist assume particular importance in the local context.

12.18.

Accordingly, when considering applications for development likely to affect any site having nature conservation value, the District Council intends to give sensitive consideration to the need for their preservation as such and to safeguard them from harmful development.

12.19.

Kent Habitats Survey

A comprehensive survey of Kent’s semi-natural habitats was first carried out between 1990 and 1994 using the Phase 1 habitat classification system (Kent Wildlife Habitat Survey County Report, 1995). In 2000, a new partnership was established to re-survey the county, and produced the Kent Habitats Survey 2003.

12.20.

The purposes of the survey include supporting environmental education projects for schools and the public; targeting agri-environmental awards and conservation action; informing environmental impact assessments for new projects and developments; guiding strategic planning and development in Kent; monitoring the pattern and scale of changes in land use across the county; and advising wildlife management plans for local farmers, landowners and businesses.

(POLICY NOT SAVED) NC1 - HABITATS

DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS WHICH WOULD RESULT IN THE LOSS OR DAMAGE TO SEMI-NATURAL HABITATS OR FEATURES, WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.

EXCEPTIONALLY, WHERE A SPECIFIC LOCAL, REGIONAL OR NATIONAL NEED HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED WHICH OVERRIDES THE NECESSITY OF RETAINING THE SITE AND FOR WHICH NO SUITABLE ALTERNATIVE SITE EXISTS, AT LEAST AN EQUIVALENT AREA OF CORRESPONDING HABITAT WILL BE EXPECTED TO BE CREATED, AT THE DEVELOPER’S EXPENSE, AT A SUITABLE LOCATION WITHIN THE DISTRICT, AND WELL RELATED TO OTHER EXISTING HABITATS.

WHERE APPROPRIATE, THE EFFECTIVE LONG-TERM MANAGEMENT OF HABITAT SITES AND FEATURES WILL BE SECURED THROUGH THE USE OF PLANNING CONDITIONS, LEGAL AGREEMENTS OR OTHER SUITABLE MECHANISMS.

12.21.

Explanation:

Thanet’s habitat resources are limited in comparison to other Kent districts, with the third lowest representation of habitat resources. Thus nonstatutory habitat sites and features assume a particularly high level of importance in the Thanet context. They also contribute significantly to the local landscape (see Countryside and Coast Chapter). Policy NC1 will therefore apply to habitat sites and features (including those identified in the Kent Habitats Survey 2003) not covered by the other nature conservation policies in this Plan.

12.22.

Thus development proposals which would damage or destroy habitats or sites identified for protection in this Plan will not normally be permitted. This preclusion also relates to off-site development proposals which would damage habitats indirectly, either in the short term or cumulatively in the long term.

12.23.

Thanet's agricultural land is generally lacking in trees, hedges and other natural cover. It is for the most part farmed right up to the edges of the built-up confines which will, as a result of strategic policies, be the focus for future development pressures.

12.24.

Therefore, where sites of known habitat value do exist, these assume a particular importance and warrant every effort to protect them. However, the Council believes that it is also important to enhance existing habitats and create new habitats for wildlife, and increase their educational value for the wider public.

12.25.

The Policy also makes provision for exceptional circumstances where the need for development overrides the desirability of retaining the site, and where no other suitable site can be found. The Council would normally expect development of the site to include mitigating measures to minimise the impact of the development on the habitat value of the site. In such situations, the Council will also expect the developer to provide for the replacement of that habitat in another location which would complement the existing pattern of habitats in the District.

12.26.

A Nature Conservation Strategy

The District Council is committed to the protection of an attractive countryside including nature conservation and all its attendant benefits. The development of a nature conservation strategy will be based on the information provided by the Habitat Survey and other relevant sources. It is recognised that the positive aspects of nature conservation aims are largely dependent upon the goodwill of farmers and other landowners.

12.27.

The District Council aims to adopt nature conservation friendly practice in its own operations, and also to encourage owners and users of land to adopt such practice.

12.28.

The purpose of the Strategy will be to provide a context for positive measures, including management agreements and other initiatives, for protecting and enhancing habitat areas, and creating new and varied habitats within the District.

12.29.

Sites Of National And International Nature Conservation Significance

The Thanet Coast and Sandwich Bay-Hacklinge Marshes (which includes Pegwell Bay) SSSIs cover most of the Thanet coastline, with the exception of Viking Bay, Broadstairs and some of the beach areas around Ramsgate, and are ranked Grade 1 in the Nature Conservation Review. This importance is underlined by the existence of a Kent Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve on the site.

12.30.

Proposals which might have an impact on the SSSIs, either directly or indirectly, would need to be subject to the most rigorous examination. 

12.31.

Pegwell Bay

Pegwell Bay is a nature conservation site of exceptional international importance. This is reflected in the designation of the area as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, two candidate Special Areas of Conservation under the Habitats Directivea Special Protection Area under the European Community
Wild Birds Directive, and a Ramsar Site. It has also been declared as a National Nature Reserve under Section 35 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

12.32.

This National Nature Reserve, of 610ha (1500 acres) which extends into Dover District, has been jointly declared by this Council, and Kent County Council. A Reserve Management Committee has been established, including English Nature, the declaring authorities and the other landowners - the Kent Wildlife Trust, RSPB, and the National Trust. A full-time Warden/Manager has been employed to implement a management plan for the site. The post is funded by the declaring authorities, the conservation organisations and commercial sponsors PowerGen and Pfizer.

12.33.

The Sandwich Bay-Hacklinge Marshes area (which includes Pegwell Bay) contains the finest sand dune system and sandy coastal grassland in south-east England, and also includes a wide range of other rare and highly valuable habitats such as mudflats, saltmarsh, freshwater marsh, scrub and woodland, and the rare geological features in the Pegwell Bay cliff formations. It is among the richest for plants in the country, renowned for invertebrate fauna.

12.34.

The mudflats and saltmarsh provide an important roost site for golden plover and support large wintering populations of waders, particularly grey plover and sanderling, which regularly reach levels of international importance. It is also important for other wintering, passage and breeding birds and as a landfall for migrant birds.

12.35.

It should be noted that Pegwell Bay is an area of considerable landscape value and significance, being designated a Special Landscape Area (in the Structure Plan) and as an area of Undeveloped Coast (See Policy CC16 in the Countryside and Coast Chapter).

(POLICY NOT SAVED) NC2 - NATURE RESERVE AND SSSIs

DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD MATERIALLY HARM OR DETRACTFROM THE SCIENTIFIC OR  NATURE CONSERVATION INTEREST OF A SSSI OR NATIONAL NATURE RESERVE, EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, 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 SSSIs, AND NO SUITABLE ALTERNATIVE SITE EXISTS, MITIGATING MEASURES SHOULD BE INCORPORATED INTO THE DEVELOPMENT, TO MINIMISE THE IMPACT OF THOSE PROPOSALS OR ENHANCE THE SCIENTIFIC OR NATURE CONSERVATION INTEREST OF THE AREA.

12.36.

Explanation:

The Thanet coastal SSSIs are also Special Protection Areas (SPAs) under the European Community Wild Birds Directive. Whilst SPAs must also be SSSI, not all the Thanet SSSIs are included in the SPA.

12.37.

Circular DETR 2/99 (Environmental Impact Assessment) and Circular ODPM 06/2005 (Biodiversity and Geological Conservation) advise that the environmental effects of any proposed development either in or close to a declared or potential SPA or Ramsar site should be subject to the most rigorous examination.

12.38.

The Wild Birds Directive requires member states to take appropriate steps to avoid the pollution or deterioration of habitats, or any disturbance affecting bird life within an SPA. Current case-law indications are that Special Protection Area status means that only development which is of overriding public interest should be permitted.

12.39.

A large proportion of the Thanet coast is identified within two candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSACs) - the Sandwich Bay SAC and the Thanet Coast Marine SAC. Government guidance in PPG9 states that candidate SACs should be treated for planning purposes in the same way as designated SACs.

12.40.

The Thanet Coast Marine SAC extends beyond the mean low-watermark. However, for planning  purposes the Policy is only applicable as far as the mean low-water mark. The level of protection tobe applied to SACs is comparable to that applied to SPAs. In Thanet, the primary interests protected by the SACs are chalk reefs and sea caves (Thanet Coast) and mud/sandflats contributing to the formation of rare and valuable dune habitats (Sandwich Bay)

12.41.

The marine areas (land covered continuously or intermittently by tidal water) of the SPA and two candidate SACs are now covered by the North-East Kent European marine sites Management cheme. This management scheme reviews on-going operations and activities in the light of advice from English Nature on the conservation objectives and the operations that may cause deterioration or disturbance. The management scheme sets out an action plan to be implemented by the relevant authorities to ensure the conservation features are maintained in a favourable condition.

12.42.

One of the key actions has been to appoint a project officer to take forward interpretation and promotion of the nature conservation importance of the coast, codes of conduct for all recreation and related activities, green tourism and monitoring of site use. The post is funded by some of the relevant authorities and also has Objective 2 funding. The post is based in Thanet District Council.

12.43.

PPS9 states that due to the European legislation (detailed below) thatcovers the SPA, SAC and  Ramsar Sites, a separate local plan policy is not required. However, these sites are still shown on the proposals map.

12.44.

The UK is bound by the terms of Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the Conservation of Wild Birds (EC Birds Directive); Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats, Wild Fauna and Flora (EC Habitats Directive) which has been transposed into UK law as the Conservation (Natural Habitats,) Regulations 1994 (as amended); and the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Wildfowl Habitat (the Ramsar Convention). These international statutes apply to the SPA, SAC and Ramsar sites designated along the Thanet Coast (which are also nationally designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest).

12.45.

The Council will require an assessment of any implications of a proposed development which is likely to affect a European Site (SPA or SAC) or a Ramsar site, unless the proposal is directly connected with, or necessary for,the management of the site.

12.46.

In order to consider granting such a proposal, the Council would need to be satisfied that there are no alternative solutions, or that there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest for the development.

12.47.

If the Council intends to allow a development on a European site, the Secretary of State will be notified in order to consider whether the application falls within the criteria for call-in.

12.48.

Sites Of County And Local Nature Conservation Significance

In addition to statutorily protected sites, there are a number of other sites known to have substantial nature conservation interest within the Kent context. These have been identified by the Kent Wildlife Trust as Local Wildlife Sites (formerly known as Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI)) and are reviewed on a regular basis. The Schedules are attached as an Appendix (still listed as SNCIs).

POLICY NC3 - LOCAL WILDLIFE SITES

DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD BE DAMAGING TO THE FOLLOWINGSITES OF NATURE  CONSERVATION INTEREST AS DEFINED ON THE PROPOSALS MAP, OR ANY SITES SO DESIGNATED IN THE FUTURE, EITHER IN THE LONG TERM OR THE SHORT TERM, WILL NOT BE PERMITTED:

  1. MONKTON CHALK PIT;
  2. ST. PETER'S CHURCHYARD;
  3. NORTH FORELAND AND GOLF COURSE ROUGHS;
  4. MINSTER STATION ENVIRONS;
  5. ASH LEVELS (part);
  6. ST. NICOLAS AT WADE CHURCHYARD;
  7. ST. MARY MAGDALENE CHURCHYARD MONKTON; AND
  8. RAMSGATE CEMETERY.

EXCEPTIONALLY, WHERE A STRATEGIC NEED IS IDENTIFIED, AT LEAST AN EQUIVALENT AREA OF CORRESPONDING HABITAT WILL BE EXPECTED TO BE CREATED, AT THE DEVELOPER’S EXPENSE, AT A SUITABLE LOCATION IN THE DISTRICT, AND WELL RELATED TO OTHER EXISTING HABITATS.

12.49.

Explanation:

Planning Policy Statement 9, Biodiversity and Geological Conservation, highlights the importance of nature conservation outside statutorily designated sites, and states that development plans should address these areas as well.

12.50.

The Council considers that Local Wildlife Sites are crucial elements of the habitat network in Thanet and that they therefore require formal protection if the habitat interest is to be maintained.

12.51.

It should be noted that a number of former Local Wildlife Sites now form part of the Thanet coastal SSSIs, and will therefore be given the appropriate level of protection from development proposals by Policy NC2.

12.52.

The Policy does make provision for circumstances where development might, in exceptional circumstances, be acceptable on a Local Wildlife Site. However, Local Wildlife Sites are scarce within the District, and take up a very small area of land. Thus the District Council would regard this as being an extremely rare occurrence, for which substantial justification would have to be put forward. The Council would normally expect development of the site to include mitigating measures to minimise the impact of the development on the habitat value of the site. In such situations, the Council will also expect the developer to provide for the replacement of that habitat in another location which would complement the existing pattern of habitats in the District.

12.53.

Habitat Management And Creation

Development proposals may sometimes create or incorporate open areas of land which provide an opportunity to protect and enhance the network of wildlife habitats outside designated sites and contribute to the maintenance of the current range and diversity of flora and fauna. New wildlife habitats which are managed appropriately may function as stepping stones or linear features which enhance the level of connectivity between sites and help with the migration, dispersal and genetic exchange of species as consistent with Planning Policy Statement 9 (PPS9). Further advice is also available in the DEFRA publication ‘Working with the Grain of Nature'.

(POLICY NOT SAVED) NC4 - HABITAT MANAGEMENT AND CREATION

DEVELOPMENT SHOULD, WHEREVER PRACTICAL, MAKE POSITIVE CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE RETENTION, CREATION AND MANAGEMENT OF WILDLIFE HABITATS WHICH COULD CONTRIBUTE TO A NETWORK OF WILDLIFE CORRIDORS AND STEPPING STONES.

12.54.

Explanation:

The Nature Conservation objectives of this Plan seek to prevent development which would be harmful to habitats or features of nature conservation importance. However, the District Council recognises that in certain instances development may satisfactorily co-exist without any loss of
the nature conservation interest, and may actually perpetuate its protection or bring about more satisfactory management.

12.55.

Lower Stour Valley

One of the potential areas for habitat enhancement is the Lower Stour Valley, and this was recognised in the Stour Valley Countryside Plan in 1982. The low-lying ground either side of the River Stour between Sarre and Pegwell Bay forms a natural topographical and ecological unit related to the river. It constitutes a linear zone of high habitat interest linked to the Stour estuary and hinterland to Pegwell Bay and Sandwich Bay, discussed above. 

12.56.

The interest of the Lower Stour Valley is principally a consequence of thehigh - water table in the  proximity of the Stour, giving rise to damp pastures drained by open dyke systems. This has created an area remarkably valuable for plants, birds and insects, containing species which are significant in national and regional terms. The habitat types represented here are, in County terms, rare and sensitive to change.

(POLICY NOT SAVED) NC5 - LOWER STOUR VALLEY

WITHIN THE LOWER STOUR VALLEY, THE PRIMARY PLANNING AIMS ARE THE CONSERVATION AND ENHANCEMENT OF THE RIVER CORRIDOR ENVIRONMENT, INCLUDING THE LANDSCAPE, WATER ENVIRONMENT AND WILDLIFE HABITATS.

DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD CONFLICT WITH THESE AIMS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED. EXCEPTIONALLY, WHERE DEVELOPMENT IS PERMITTED, THE DISTRICT COUNCIL WILL IMPOSE CONDITIONS OR SEEK TO ENTER INTO PLANNING OBLIGATIONS WHERE NECESSARY
TO SAFEGUARD THE OPEN CHARACTER, NATURE CONSERVATION AND RECREATIONAL VALUE OF THE AREA

12.57.

Explanation:

The area is one of considerable potential for habitat creation and enhancement, particularly land currently in arable production. The District Council supports a partnership approach for the management and enhancement of the habitat base of the Lower Stour Valley. The Kentish Stour
Countryside Project has been running for over six years and now includes the Lower Stour Valley.

12.58.

The area covered by this policy has been extended beyond that in the 1982 Countryside Plan to include two stretches which link into the three existing SNCIs at Ash Levels, Minster Station Environs and the Chislet Marshes & Sarre Peninsula.

12.59.

Species Protected by Other Legislation

It is possible that, although a site may not be a designated nature conservation site, some of the many species which are protected by the Wildlife & Countryside Act or the Badgers Act or the Habitats Regulations may be present. The presence of such species is a material consideration in the assessment of development proposals. It will therefore be important to carry out survey work where appropriate to establish the presence of protected species, including the effect of seasonal factors on their presence. In this respect, the District Council would advise developers to take account of the statutory obligations explained in ODPM Circular 06/2005, exercise caution in the preparation of development proposals, and also in their implementation, if planning permission is granted.

12.60.

Of particular interest in the Thanet context are the numerous high-tide roost areas which are associated with the Thanet coastal SPA-Ramsar Sites, but not located within them. These sites obviously do not benefit from protection as SPA-Ramsar Sites or under the Wildlife & Countryside Act.

12.61.

District Council Initiatives

To demonstrate its commitment to, and to further the aims of, natureconservation and the  Biodiversity Action Plan, the District Council intends to have particular regard to land within its own ownership or control, and willconsider whether pilot management schemes or other initiatives are
appropriate in stimulating interest, developing educational awareness and commitment to nature conservation.

12.62.

It intends to consider initiatives aimed at furthering the aims of nature conservation including community woodlands (See Sport & Recreation Chapter), land management schemes, designation of local nature reserves and securing habitat creation through the use of planning agreements and design briefs. The Victoria Road cemetery in Margate will be managed by the District Council as an  urban habitat resource.

12.63.

Nature Conservation and Farming

Natural elements which are often regarded as obstacles to efficient farming are actually important in perpetuating the viability of the land for cultivation. For example, trees and hedgerows can maintain soil quality by preventing erosion, retaining water and sheltering crops from wind damage and subsequent rot, and can provide a habitat for wildlife which prey on pests which attack crops. It is actually in the farmer's interests to nurture the appropriate natural conditions which will assist his type of farming.

12.64.

With the exception of those sites having statutory protection, nature conservation in the countryside  is largely dependent on the benevolence of the farming community. The diversification of the rural economy and uncertainty over future farming methods and land requirements mean that the impact on, or potential for, nature conservation is imponderable.

12.65.

While it is often attractive to work all available land as intensely as possible, it will often be possible to attain significant conservation benefits with little or no loss of potential return.

12.66.

Grants may be available from a number of sources including the Countryside Agency, the Forestry Authority, English Nature, Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, Kent County Council. Projects eligible for grant aid and which may have nature conservation benefits include:

  1. planting for shelter, shade, amenity, woodland planting, hedgerow planting; and
  2. maintenance and management of sites and species of nature conservation importance.
12.67.

The District Council is committed to habitat and wildlife conservation. While its statutory powers may be limited in respect of agricultural practice and operations in the countryside, the District Council wishes to encourage naturefriendly use of the countryside through any practical means available. In this regard it also wishes to bring to the attention of farmers and landowners the range of advice and grants available and also in the DEFRA publication ‘Working with the Grain of Nature’.

12.68.

Sites of Geological Importance

The Isle of Thanet possesses a wealth of areas of geological and geomorphological interest which are of importance for study and research purposes. Many of these areas are protected by virtue of their location within the Thanet SSSIs, which are geological as well as biological.

12.69.

However, there are other areas which do not benefit from statutory protection, but which can be designated as Regionally Important Geomorphological/Geological Sites (RIG Sites). RIG Sites are regarded as being broadly analogous to Local Wildlife Sites (Policy NC3) in terms of their status within the planning context.

12.70.

Thus far, three sites in Thanet have been formally proposed by the Kent RIGS Group; the Monkton Chalkpit Nature Reserve; St Peter’s Quarry and Pegwell Bay infilled dry valley. At RIG Sites, the following Policy will apply.

POLICY NC6 - RIG SITES

AT RIGS SITES, DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD RESULT IN THE LOSS OR OBSTRUCTION OF GEOLOGICAL FEATURES OF IMPORTANCE FOR STUDY AND RESEARCH PURPOSES WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.

TARGETS
LP Implementation Target
Policy Area
Protection of the Natural Environment
Relevant Policies
NC1
Indicator
Hectarage of Semi-Natural Habitat lost or fragmented
Target
Nil
MonitoringMonitoring of Planning Applications
LP Implementation Target
Policy Area
Protection of sites of Geological Importance
Relevant Policies
NC6
Indicator
Hectarage of RIG sites lost or obstructed
Target
Nil
Monitoring
Monitoring of Planning Applications

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