NEW national planning guidance published by the former Communities Secretary James Brokenshire orders developers to do more to protect wildlife.

Andy Boddington, Shropshire councillor for Ludlow North, believes that the measures will be welcomed by local groups including the Ludlow Swifts Group, Pricklebums Hedgehog Rescue and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society based in the town.

James Brokenshire’s announcement came as ministers rushed to get out policy statements ahead of the cabinet reshuffle in which he was sacked.

According to the guidance, net biodiversity gain in planning “describes an approach to development that leaves the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was beforehand. Net gain is an umbrella term for both biodiversity net gain and wider environmental net gain.” Compared to the previous edition, the guidance places much stronger emphasis on ways development can enhance biodiversity and the environment.

The guidance suggests that measures could involve creating new habitats, including drainage areas to create wetlands for birds and amphibians, enhancing existing habitats, providing green roofs, green walls, street trees or sustainable drainage systems.

Biodiversity gain can either be provided on site or off site.

Shropshire Council is currently reviewing its local plan.

“It has been concentrating on finding development sites and we have yet to see the detailed policies on biodiversity,” said Mr Boddington.

“These need to be much stronger than in the current core strategy and SAMDev. James Brokenshire’s welcome announcement will help us achieve that.

One idea we should consider is a ‘greening factor.’ This introduces a formal method for calculating the minimum green infrastructure needed for a development. It has been used in Seattle, Berlin, Helsinki and Southampton.

“It will be introduced in London very shortly. Currently, Shropshire Council has open space standards but no biodiversity standards. A greening factor would ensure that developers, planners and councillors know what is required for every development.”

Changing in building practices have had a major impact upon a wide variety of wildlife.

There has been a marked and worrying decline in the number of hedgehogs living in the United Kingdom and this has been largely due to the loss of traditional habitats and corridors enabling them to move from garden to garden.

Hedgehogs like cover from branches and twigs and the tidy and well manicured garden is not to their liking.

They are also vulnerable as one of the favourite places to rest up is under garden rubbish and bonfires.

Swifts are also affected by modern building with fewer nest sites under eaves and in crevices. They also nest in barns and outbuildings.