Anyone can comment on a planning application. Your opinion counts and your council have a duty to listen to your opinion and that of the public. Remember, planning officers at your council are there to help and you can ask them for advice if you are unsure how to interpret a planning application.

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust looks to influence planning at all levels. We focus on the protection and enhancement of habitats and habitat networks at village, town and County level (for example Local wildlife sites | Wiltshire Wildlife Trust). We work with the wider network of Wildlife Trusts and other NGOs nationally to lobby for the prioritisation of wildlife in planning policy design.

The scale of development throughout Wiltshire and Swindon is such that as a charity we concentrate on major developments and developments that directly impact on our nature reserves. Staff resources within the team are committed to this work.

You can make a valuable contribution to protecting wildlife in Wiltshire by submitting records of protected species and habitats to the Wiltshire & Swindon Biological Records Centre, a resource used in evidencing the impact of proposed development. Information on what to look out for and how to submit records can be found on the WSBRC website. 

WILTSHIRE WILDLIFE TRUST IS NOT RESOURCED TO RESPOND TO ALL PLANNING APPLICATIONS WHICH MAY AFFECT WILDLIFE IN THE COUNTY. WE ARE NOT STATUTORY CONSULTEES AND HAVE NO DIRECT CONTROL OVER PLANNING DECISIONS. WE AIM TO COMMENT ON APPLICATIONS AND POLICIES THAT COULD HAVE THE GREATEST IMPACT ON WILDLIFE, IN PARTICULAR WHERE NATURE RESERVES ARE AFFECTED.

Planning FAQ's

  1. Can I respond to planning applications myself?
  2. What can I do if I observe wildlife being harmed during construction works?
  3. What can I do if I am concerned about an activity on a development site?
  4. What issues does Wiltshire Wildlife Trust comment on?
  5. Does Wiltshire Wildlife Trust comment on every planning application that may affect wildlife?
  6. Can I read Wiltshire Wildlife Trust comments for myself?
  7. What about neighbourhood planning?
  8. Will policies in the new Environment Act affect how planning applications need to consider wildlife?

Can I respond to planning applications myself?

Yes.

Planning applications and all accompanying information can be found on the website for each Local Planning Authority. Anyone can view this and submit comments on the application. To make your comments count, we have listed three key steps below:

  • Check in the supporting documents whether any ecological information has already been submitted. If a survey report is on the website, this may address your concerns.

  • Let the council know if you have evidence of protected/ priority habitats and/ or species on the site not already accounted for. Please also submit your wildlife sightings to the Wiltshire & Swindon Biological Records Centre so we can update our database.

For more information on how to comment on a planning application, download our guidance document at the bottom of this page.

What can I do if I observe wildlife being harmed during construction works?

If you observe wildlife being harmed in Wiltshire, or any action that might lead to wildlife being harmed, you can contact Wiltshire Police to find out if a crime is being committed, and report it through this page: Wildlife crime | Wiltshire Police

Do not attempt to physically intervene, as you may put yourself or others in danger of injury or prosecution.

What can I do if I am concerned about an activity on a development site?

We recommend that you contact your Local Planning Authority. Try to provide them with as much information as you can about your concerns. Include the site location and any relevant planning history that you might be aware of.

Do not attempt to physically intervene, as you may put yourself or others in danger of injury or prosecution.

What issues does Wiltshire Wildlife Trust comment on?

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust comments at discretion upon plans or policy that we see as having the greatest potential to impact on wildlife in the county. We cannot respond to matters that lie outside our expertise areas, such as the landscape impact (visual appearance/character), residential, amenity or traffic problems.

Does Wiltshire Wildlife Trust comment on every planning application that may affect wildlife?

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust receives and assesses a large number of requests to comment on planning proposals and do not have the resources to respond to every application that may affect wildlife or correspond with concerned individuals on specific cases.

We look to influence planning at all levels, focussing on the protection and enhancement of habitats and habitat networks at village, town and County level (for example Local wildlife sites | Wiltshire Wildlife Trust). We work with the wider network of Wildlife Trusts and other NGOs nationally to lobby for the prioritisation of wildlife in planning policy design.

Other NGOs working in the county may have resources to guide input into planning matters for particular species, eg birds, bats or mammals.

Can I read Wiltshire Wildlife Trust comments for myself?

Yes, all our comments are submitted in writing and up-loaded onto the Councils’ Applications website. They are public documents and can be referred to and copied.

What about neighbourhood planning?

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is occasionally asked to contribute to Neighbourhood Plans. Currently, we do not have additional resources to do this.

We recognise the importance of the planning process and we are actively involved in the development of the Local Nature Recovery Strategy which is intended to inform planning prioritisation in the county.

If you are involved in neighbourhood planning, or are looking to comment on individual planning applications or policies, these links may provide useful information on the context in which decisions are made:

Protected sites & species considerations guidance for LPAs:

https://www.gov.uk/topic/planning-development/protected-sites-species 

Wiltshire Council Biodiversity & Development info:

Biodiversity and development - Wiltshire Council

Wiltshire Core Plan Strategy:

Wiltshire Core Strategy - Wiltshire Council

Wiltshire Local plan which is currently under review:

Wiltshire_Local_Plan_Addressing_Climate_Change_and_Biodiversity_FINAL.pdf

Swindon Local Plan:

Swindon Local Plan 2026 | Swindon Borough Council

Wiltshire Green & Blue Infrastructure Strategy:

Green and blue infrastructure - Wiltshire Council

Swindon Green Infrastructure Strategy:

Swindon Green Infrastructure Strategy | Swindon Borough Council

Wiltshire Biodiversity Action Plan and Priority Species list:

Wiltshire Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) 2008 (link2nature.org.uk) (Priority Species list pp 129 – 142)

Wiltshire & Swindon Biological Records Centre:

Wiltshire & Swindon Biological Records Centre (wsbrc.org.uk)

Will policies in the new Environment Act affect how planning applications need to consider wildlife?

Yes. Part 6 of the Act will require there to be a 10% net gain in biodiversity as a condition of planning permission, in addition to existing requirements to mitigate and compensate for biodiversity lost through development Environment Act 2021 (legislation.gov.uk). This can be achieved by enhancing or creating new habitats on the site, or as nearby as possible.

Some more information from Natural England can be found here: Biodiversity Net Gain – more than just a number - Natural England (blog.gov.uk)

Biodiversity lost and gained will be measured using a specific metric. More details on how the system will work in practice, what Wiltshire’s local priorities will be and what applications are exempt from this requirement are expected by 2023.

View our statement on Biodiversity Net Gain

Downloadable Advice and Guidance

How to Comment on a Planning Application

Where can I have my say?

Here is where you can search for current planning applications:

Wiltshire: Planning - Wiltshire Council  

Swindon: View or comment on a planning application | Swindon Borough Council.

Last updated: June 2022