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Welsh government seeks views on the draft code of practice for species control

Under the Infrastructure Act 2015, the Welsh Ministers are obliged to issue a code of practice in relation to species control agreements and orders in Wales. The English government published a similar consultation for England back in December 2015.

The Welsh government has now issued a consultation seeking views on its draft code of practice for using species control agreements (SCAs) and species control orders (SCOs). The purpose of the consultation is to seek views from various Welsh Councils and environmental agencies and groups on how the species control provisions should be used in practice. The consultation closes on 5 April 2015.

The draft code of practice explains the:

  • Species control provisions in Schedule 9A in general terms, in particular the species to which the provisions apply;
  • Significant adverse impact test. For an SCO to be made, the species must be having a significant adverse impact on biodiversity, environmental, social or economic interests and the authority must be satisfied that there is no appropriate alternative way of obviating that impact;
  • Detailed requirements for making an SCA;
  • Detailed requirements and conditions for making an SCO;
  • Powers of entry, enforcement, offences and penalties;
  • Whether the landowner or environmental authority is responsible for the costs of removing the species; and
  • Right to appeal against an SCO to the First-tier Tribunal.

Staged process

The draft code emphasises the staged process required by the law. Environmental authorities (in Wales, the Welsh Ministers and the Natural Resources Body for Wales) should prioritise reaching an informal agreement with a landowner. If this cannot be achieved within a reasonable time, the environmental authority should make reasonable effort to reach a voluntary agreement (which is a SCA) with the landowner. 

SCAs

The draft code of practice provides guidance on factors that the environmental authority must consider before offering a SCA. The environmental authority must satisfy itself that:

  • Control of the species is a sufficient priority;
  • Control of the species is viable; and
  • The SCA is a proportionate response to dealing with the issue.

SCOs

A SCO can be made in various circumstances:

  • If the owner has entered into a SCA and has failed to comply with it;
  • If the owner has refused to enter into a SCA;
  • If the environmental authority considers that making a SCO is urgent;
  • If the environmental authority has been unable to identify the owner of the premises.

Before making a SCO the environmental authority must be satisfied that doing so would be proportionate to the objective to be achieved.
Additional protection is afforded to dwelling. If the proposed SCO relates to a dwelling, it can only be made by the Welsh Ministers.

Click here for more on SCOs, the implications of non-compliance and what these new powers mean for landowners and developers.

Contributor: Alexandra Holsgrove Jones

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at January 2016. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions on www.TLTsolicitors.com

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