Following a recommendation from a leading planning barrister (Martin Kingston QC), HDA was employed by Comparo Ltd to replace the previous project ecologists during the determination of an application for 140 homes and commercial land, following an ecology related impasse being reached between the applicant and Cornwall Council, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Natural England.

The key issue was that the site is abutted on all sides by the internationally designated Penhale Dunes SAC and encroached by Penhale Dunes SSSI at several locations. Prior to HDA ecologists being brought on to the project team, Cornwall Council and Natural England were of the opinion that the site was undevelopable for even a single home on the basis of the proposals at that time.

Biodiversity mitigation and management strategy

Through negotiation with Cornwall Council, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Natural England, and preparation of detailed Biodiversity Mitigation and Management Plan, Ecological Lighting Design Strategy, Fencing Design Statement, Recreation Assessments, and an updated Habitats Regulations Assessment, HDA was able to demonstrate that the scheme could be delivered without risk of adverse effect on the SAC and SSSI, or important populations of bats, birds, protected plants and other habitats. Planning permission was subsequently granted.

A key factor in which HDA ecologists added value to this project, is that the planning authority considered the site to be undevelopable for even a single new dwelling, and the application was heading for refusal until HDA was brought on to the project team.