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Biodiversity and Nature Conservation

The Council's Nature Conservation Team plays a key role in helping to ensure the County's diverse range of landscapes and habitats are appropriately protected and managed, including areas of upland moorland, coastal cliffs, sandy beaches, heathland, woodland, wetlands, river valleys and estuaries. These habitats, together with historic parks and gardens, pockets of urban green-space and large areas of farmland, make Swansea a highly attractive and ecologically rich County, with over 50% of its area being identified as having significant ecological interest. This wealth of habitats supports a huge diversity of plant and animal species, the collective term for which is biodiversity.

Many of the habitats and species identified in legislation and guidance as being of importance for biodiversity conservation can be found in Swansea, and approximately 17% of the County's area is protected by designations at an International or National level. These designated areas and priority habitats represent only the very best of the County's biodiversity. They do not, however, encompass all that is irreplaceable and cannot by themselves maintain biodiversity. Even common habitats, urban wildlife sites and green spaces, are important in maintaining a network of semi-natural sites, and the quality and extent of the biodiversity resource as a whole. It is the unique relationship between a vibrant city and outstanding biodiversity and countryside that helps to make the County a unique and particularly attractive place to live, work and visit.

The Nature Conservation Team are a consultee in the planning application process and provide specialist advice to other Council departments in relation to biodiversity matters. The Council puts 'Placemaking' at the heart of its approach to planning decisions.  This approach has multiple benefits that can help improve quality of life, tackle climate change, reduce our carbon footprint and improve biodiversity and ecological resilience for the future. Under the current legislative and policy framework in Wales the planning system must seek to safeguard resilient ecological networks and secure a net benefit for biodiversity as part of new development proposals. It is therefore essential to address all biodiversity issues as an intrinsic part of planning applications. Failure to do so can result in planning applications being refused or delayed.

The Swansea LDP and associated Supplementary Planning Guidance provides the local planning policy framework for biodiversity and provides detailed information on how development proposals can meet the requirements in respect of biodiversity matters. Further details are available via the related pages below, which also signpost other useful information and best practice.

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