Useful Links

As well as local and national recording schemes, there are a number of other sources of advice and support for planners, consultants and developers. A list of useful links for planners can be found at the bottom of this page. Information on Local Wildlife Sites can be accessed via our online LoWS finder tool.

For surveying advice and resources please see our online Survey Toolkit.


The following websites provide useful advice and background information:

Biodiversity Planning Toolkit: A useful resource for planners, developed by the Association for Local Government Ecologists (ALGE). Also being developed is a four year project involving the Bat Conservation Trust and 17 other organisations called The Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning. The Partnership is developing a web-based planning tool that will enable users without any ecological expertise to quickly and easily assess whether a development scheme is likely to affect protected and priority species.

The East of England Biodiversity Forum helps formulate co-ordinated policies and encourage action plans that reflect national biodiversity policies at every level.


Defra have recently published guidance on protecting and providing habitat for wild birds, aimed at local and other competent authorities. The guidance can be found here.


Essex Biodiversity Project is an informal partnership of more than 40 organisations and individuals committed to preserving and enhancing biodiversity in Essex. A steering group comprised of representatives from the Partner organisations guide the work of the Project.


Essex Rivers Hub: Launched in 2014, this is a partnership site containing information on the Water Framework Directive and Essex rivers. For live information on river levels the interactive mapping site Gaugemap is a very useful resource.


Essex Planning Officers Association (EPOA) represents 12 local planning authorities in Essex as well as the two unitary authorities of Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea.


Garden Wildlife Heath is a collaborative project between the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Froglife and the Royal Society for the Protection of BIrds (RSPB), that aims to monitor the health of, and identify disease threats to, British wildlife. Sick or dead wildlife can be reported here.


The Hedgelink website has useful information about the importance of hedgerows, legislation and hedgerow management.


Magic provides authoritative geographic information about the natural environment from across government in an interactive map format.


The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) is a collaborative project overseen by the NBN Trust, concerned with making species data available to anyone interested in the UK’s biodiversity via the NBN Atlas. The NBN works with national and local recording groups, Local Records Centres, planners and other end users to collate information n species datasets available at a national level, and is the UK hub of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. The NBN toolbox of resources to aid biological recording can be accessed here:


The National Plant Monitoring Scheme is a new habitat-based plant monitoring scheme designed by BSBI, CEH, Plantlife and JNCC.

Buglife published a Local Pollinator Action Plan for Local Authorities in June 2017, the plan is available to download here.

Horticulture magazine have produced interactive maps of Japanese Knotweed cases in the UK.


Natural England: Provides advice and other planning guidance, plus geographical information, including:

They have recently published new advice for planners on reviewing development proposals that might affect protected species and sites, including standing advice. The advice can be accessed here.


The Natural History Museum has one of the world's most important scientific collections and has recently launched a new information portal.

The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network is a UK-wide citizen science initiative led by Imperial College London in collaboration with a number of other organisations.


See also the planning guidance documents below:


The new National Planning Policy Guidance, published on 27 March 2012 can be found here:

A new online map of neighbourhood planning activity can be found at The map currently shows 723 Neighbourhood Planning Areas (NPAs) in development, ranging from the dozen or so that have gone through the process of adoption and come into force, to 80 where there are draft plans for consultation, to the rest where communities have taken the first formal steps towards producing a neighbourhood development plan.