Planning decisions should be based on up to date information, but exactly how old this information can be before it is no longer considered "current" is often a bit of a grey area. In some cases there may be specific guidance, but now CIEEM, the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, has published general advice on the length of time that professional survey reports can be considered valid.
As a not-for-profit organisation we rely heavily on our volunteers, and have regular volunteers that help to digitise data. We are very grateful for their help and dedication, and recently had the opportunity to recognise one of our longest serving volunteers via the Room for Reward scheme. Essex Wildlife Trust can nominate a limited number of volunteers for the scheme each year, and we were delighted to have our volunteer Brian Arbon recognised under the scheme.
The Wildlife Trusts have published a report on the status of Local Wildilfe Sites (LoWS) in England in 2017/18. Local Wildlife Sites are part of the country's ecological network and form important links between statutory sites such as SSSI's. They are not legally protected in their own right, although national planning policy requires Local Authorites to give them some level of protection from development.
The government is consulting on mandating biodiversity net gain in development to ensure habitats are protected and enhanced for the future.
It is a statutory requirement for local authorities to consider the ecological impact of developments, but often potential developers may be unaware of potential ecological implications of a development until after a planning application has been submitted. This can lead to costly delays for developers or householders, greater impacts on wildlife populations, and a reduction in biodiversity.