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Our strategy & SPD

Thousands of birds come to the Essex coast to breed and feed and there are ten Designated Habitats Sites to safeguard them. New housing around the Essex coast will lead to more people visiting the coast for leisure, with the potential to cause more disturbance. Research shows that additional disturbance will affect the birds’ survival unless mitigation measures are put in place. Bird Aware Essex Coast is a tool being used to lessen potential impacts from increased local housing development. The initiative is run by the Essex Coast Recreational disturbance Avoidance and Mitigation Partnership (Essex Coast RAMS). This is made up of twelve local councils, Essex County Council and Natural England, and funded by contributions from all new residential dwellings within the Zones of Influence.

The planned mitigation measures are set out in the Essex Coast Recreational disturbance Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy (Essex Coast RAMS). The mitigation measures will include a team of rangers to help coastal visitors and communities understand the importance of the different bird species and the impact of disturbance. Additional work will take place to encourage responsible dog walking and visits to less sensitive parts of the coast. Mitigation measures will also include new habitat creation.

Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)

An Essex Coast RAMS Strategy Document has been adopted. It includes a technical report and mitigation strategy for how the Essex local authorities will avoid and mitigate the in-combination effects of increased recreational disturbance on Essex coast Habitats sites.

The public consultation on the Essex Coast RAMS SPD closed in February 2020. A summary of responses, can be viewed here:  SPD Consultation Responses (Opens in a new window)

Developer contributions

Most visits to the Designated Habitats Sites on the Essex coast are made by people who live in close proximity to the coast. Each of the Habitats Sites has a Zone of Influence, which is the area in which the majority of visitors travel from. New homes built within the Zone of Influence are likely to lead to more people visiting the Designated Habitats Sites with the potential to impact on the birds.

Applicants can provide mitigation themselves. They will need to satisfy the local planning authority and Natural England that their proposed measures will fully mitigate the impact of the development.

In most cases, it is more straightforward for an applicant to make a developer contribution towards implementing the Essex Coast RAMS. If you are planning a development and are considering meeting your mitigation requirements through the Essex Coast RAMS but would like advice on how much developer contribution it would incur, please contact your local planning authority at your earliest convenience.

A developer contribution needs to be paid for every net new additional dwelling. The current charge (as of 1st April 2024) is £163.86. This will be updated each year in line with the Retail Price Index.

New housing schemes, particularly those located close to a Designated Habitats Sites boundary and large scale development, may need to provide additional mitigation measures. The local planning authority, with advice from Natural England, will consider the mitigation requirements for such development proposals on a case-by-case basis.

Frequently Asked Questions

A list of frequently asked questions related to the initiative is provided.

Student Accommodation Guidance

The Partnership has agreed a guidance note to assist applications for student accommodation.  The purpose of the guidance note is to ensure that a consistent approach is taken across Essex when dealing with proposals for student accommodation within the Zones of Influence.

See Appendix 2 in SPD document above.