Planning applications

Standing up for wildlife

Positive planning for nature’s recovery

Terry Whittaker/2020VISION

Built development may cause serious harm to wildlife, but it doesn’t have to

With the right design and sympathetic location, development can also provide a real lifeline for nature.

Our planning role is as much about promoting positive outcomes as it is about opposing harmful proposals. We're committed to working in partnership with planners, developers, communities and other environmental bodies across Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, as well as offshore, to ensure that development decisions safeguard established wildlife and create much-needed networks of new habitats.

Commenting on planning applications

Our 26 local planning authorities and the marine planning authority for the adjacent Irish Sea receive more than 40,000 planning applications a year! Due to the sheer volume of these applications, our five Area Conservation Officers can't  cover every case. To make the best use of our charity's resources, we focus on the cases where we feel we can make a real and positive difference for our region's special wildlife and wild places.

How we prioritise responses

We put a great deal of effort into strategic or forward planning, such as in Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region’s spatial plans and our 25 district councils’ and one county council’s respective Local Plans. In each of those regularly revised plans, our local councils propose where new developments would best be located in the future and what environmental policies should be applied when making decisions on individual planning applications in their area. In this way, we to try to reduce the frequency of conflict between development and wildlife protection at an early stage and to ensure that each plan has good, defensible policies on nature.

We're committed to ensuring that development decisions safeguard established wildlife and create much-needed networks of new habitats

We then prioritise responses to those areas of our patch where we have most local knowledge: for example, close to our own nature reserves and our local projects. Applications or plans that would significantly impact sites designated for their wildlife value such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) will also be given a high priority, as will very large national infrastructure proposals such as new motorways, tidal energy schemes or high speed railways. Occasionally, we’ll get involved with applications outside of these areas: for example, if it's possible to secure a hugely positive outcome for nature, or the proposals relate to our own offices and visitor centres.

What you can do to help

  • Find out when your local authority is consulting on its Local Plan and insist on strong policies to protect wildlife and wild places.
  • Respond to planning application consultations and ask for new wildlife habitat to be created as part of major developments.
  • Find out if your parish or town council is putting together a Neighbourhood Plan. You can seek the creation of new wildlife-rich green space as part of that plan, and protect existing local natural areas.
  • Respond to planning applications that you think could damage wildlife or wild places or have the potential to expand, connect or create more areas for wildlife. Let your local councillors and those on the planning committee know why you’re commenting, whether you’re supporting or objecting.
  • Make a note of animals and plants that are present in your local area and tell the relevant biological record centre: Lancashire Environment Record Network (LERN), Greater Manchester Local Record Centre (GMLRC), or Merseyside Biobank.

Get in touch

Would you like more information about built development in your local area? Don't hesitate to get in touch with one of our Area Conservation Officers.

Greater Manchester

A footpath leading through the ferns on Cadishead Moss

Cadishead Moss is healing nicely after we rescued it from peat extraction

Martyn Walker:
Martyn covers Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Manchester, Rochdale, Salford and Wigan.

Irish Sea

A common blenny, or shanny, resting in a rockpool

Common blenny by Linda Pitkin/2020VISION

David Dunlop:
David covers the Irish Sea area from Morecambe Bay to Liverpool Bay.


Sunlight filtering through trees in the woodlands of Mere Sands Wood

Mere Sands Wood by Tom McKibbin

Central and Western Lancashire

David Dunlop:
David covers Blackburn with Darwen, Chorley, Preston, South Ribble and West Lancashire.

East Lancashire

John Lamb:
John covers Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, the Ribble Valley and Rossendale.

North Lancashire

Kim Wisdom:
Kim covers Blackpool, Fylde, Lancaster and Wyre.


Ponds and pools at Lunt Meadows nature reserve surrounded by lush vegetation

Rachel Cripps:
Rachel covers Knowsley, Liverpool, Saint Helens and Sefton.