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  • Protected Areas

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Bridgend contains a number of internationally, nationally and locally important sites for nature and geological conservation. These sites are of primary importance for Bridgend and form the core ecological network which is a vital part of Bridgend’s natural heritage and recreational resource.
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Bridgend contains a number of internationally, nationally and locally important sites for nature and geological conservation. These sites are of primary importance for Bridgend and form the core ecological network which is a vital part of Bridgend’s natural heritage and recreational resource.

It is important to understand the potential impact of your development on protecting irreplaceable habitat (such as ancient woodland) and existing sites of international, national or local importance and landscape character. National and local policy recognises the importance of protecting and enhancing these areas designated for their special landscape and/or biodiversity importance.

Bridgend CBC also seeks to ensure the protection of areas important for nature conservation. These sites have been identified and receive protection in the Bridgend Local Development Plan CHP 4: Protecting and Enhancing the Environment. Areas having a high and/or unique environmental quality are protected from inappropriate development which directly or indirectly impacts upon them.

Designated sites are essential, however, they provide only small isolated refuges. It is essential that we maintain and create connections between these sites to allow for the movement of wildlife between sites and between populations.

If your development occurs near a protected area whilst minimising the detrimental effect of your development you can actually have a positive benefit. Protected sites are important refuges for habitats and the species that reside there, and are the foundations for Bridgend’s green infrastructure. However these sites are becoming increasingly fragmented and are not able to function as well as they could and are becoming less resilient to changes such as climate change. Bridgend CBC aim to promote green infrastructure which aims to create ecological networks, green corridors and greenways that have both social and environmental benefit. It is a mechanism for more informed decision-making and more ‘joined-up’ thinking in relation to urban and regional environmental planning.

GUIDANCE NOTE 1: Adverse impacts to designated site should only occur as a last resort, and should be fully compensated by replacement with a feature of comparable or higher ecological value.

By maintaining or creating natural features such as trees and hedgerows, or providing well designed natural open spaces within developments you can provide essential stepping stones and connections that and have a positive contributions to green infrastructure.

For example, collectively householders can make a huge contribution to green infrastructure and connectivity between woodlands by planting native species trees. In addition households will directly receive the benefits (ecosystem services) of the trees such as shading, cleaner air, and amenity value see CIRIA report C712 The Benefits of Large Species Trees in Urban Landscapes for more information.

You can find out more information regarding ecosystem services from the Wales Biodiversity Partnership.

Descriptions of protected sites

Protected sites receive varying levels of protection. Sites of European (SAC) and National importance (SSSI) receive statutory protection as well as protection under the Bridgend Local Development Plan. Sites of local importance make a vital contribution to delivering the UK and Local Biodiversity Action Plans and the Geodiversity Action Plan, as well as maintaining local natural character and distinctiveness. Although these sites are non-statutory national government guidance (PPS 9) requires their identification, designation and protection by local authorities through planning policies in their development plans.


  • Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)

Strategic Policy 4: SP4(1) Natural 2000 Network Sites including Special Areas of Conservation (SACs);

A Special Area of Conservation is a strictly protected site designated under the European Commission (EC) Habitats Directive.

In 1992 European Union governments adopted the Habitats Directive. The aim of the Habitats Directive is to conserve natural habitats and wild species across Europe by establishing a network of sites known as Natura 2000 or European sites as defined under The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended).

The Habitats Directive requires Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) to be designated for species and for habitats. Sites designated solely for birds are called Special Protection Areas (SPA) and are designated under the Birds Directive which was adopted in 1979. Bridgend has 1,046ha designated as SAC. All SAC and SPA are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)

Strategic Policy 4: SP4(2) Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

This designation is the highest in the UK and provides statutory protection for our best examples of flora, fauna and geological features. SSSIs were created following the Countryside Act 1949 and subsequently re-notified under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and improved protection and management was provided by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. It is a criminal offence to damage, destroy or disturb a SSSI. The Welsh Government in its Environment Strategy has set a target of ensuring that 95% of Wales’ SSSIs are in favourable condition by 2015. Natural Resources Wales are responsible for the designation of SSSIs on behalf of the Welsh Government. Bridgend has 17 SSSIs covering an area of around 1,345ha.

  • Nature Reserves (NNRs)

Policy ENV4: ENV4(1) Local Nature Reserves (LNRs).

NNRs are designated for their natural and semi-natural habitats, including coastal habitats. They are managed to conserve their biodiversity interest and for scientific research. Bridgend has 2 National Nature Reserves at Kenfig Pool and Dunes and Merthyr Mawr Warren, totalling 838ha. Kenfig Pool and Dunes is also a Local Nature Reserve.

  •  Local Nature Reserves (LNRs)

Policy ENV4: ENV4(2) Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC).

As the name suggests these reserves are designated for their value to local communities, they are not only for wildlife but also for education and for people to experience nature. Other than Kenfig Pool and Dunes LNR, Bridgend has additional LNRs at Frog Pond Wood, Locks Common, Craigy- Parcau Woodland and Tremains Wood.

Local Nature Reserves are true green infrastructure assets.


  •  Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs)

SINCs are a local planning designation, designated by Bridgend County Borough Council. They are decided by a set of criteria developed to represent valuable habitats and species for Bridgend and Wales. There are 174 SINCs in Bridgend. Under the Town and Country Planning System these sites are a material consideration when determining planning applications.

  • UK and Bridgend Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Habitats 

Outside of designated sites Bridgend contains a wealth of habitats that are locally and nationally important, such as woodland and species-rich grassland. Under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 local authorities have a duty ‘when exercising its function’ (including development control) to conserve biodiversity, this includes restoring or enhancing habitat or a population.

  • Landscape Character Areas

For further information on Landscape Character Areas please refer to the Landscape Character Assessment.

  • Ecological Network

Designated sites and natural habitats are essential for the conservation of wildlife; equally as important is the connectivity between those sites and habitats. Isolated sites outside of a network are vulnerable to a number of factors. Those within a network are better placed to recover from damage and to enable re colonisation by wildlife. Bridgend’s ecological network is based on its protected sites and the river and stream network. The landscape between the core sites is important for wildlife and for people and Bridgend aims to improve the habitat quality and quantity within those linking landscapes.

Whilst some sites fall outside of the statutory and non-statutory designations, biodiversity including habitats can be a material consideration in the formal planning system. Undesignated sites which have the biodiversity importance of designated sites will also receive the same protection.

How do I know if my development is near a protected site?

Statutory protected sites can be found on the adopted Bridgend Local Development Plan (2013). Maps of SINC sites can be found on the Council website as part of the SINC review (2011) document. Biodiversity Action Plan habitats can be found on priority maps produced by Natural Resources Wales and if present on or adjacent to the site should be identified by site surveys.

The South East Wales Biological Records Centre (SEWBReC) and/or any other relevant organisations. (All data submitted to the local planning authority as part of the application will be made available to SEWBReC, unless the applicant requests otherwise);

Development sites that provide the maximum benefit to ecological networks can be identified using eco-connectivity mapping produced by Bridgend CBC and Natural Resources Wales. These maps can be used to identify how your development can best utilise and contribute to green infrastructure functionality within the County Borough.

If you are unsure you can contact the council’s planning department by calling 01656 643643. Please note in some cases the boundaries of these designations overlap.

How do I determine if my development may affect a protected site?

Whether a development will have an impact on a site/habitat is depended on the ‘zone of influence’ of the development.

The zone of influence of a development is defined in the Guidelines for Ecological Impact Assessment in the UK as the areas/resources that may be affected by the biophysical changes caused by activities associated with a project.

Therefore, the zone of influence is dependent on the development/project and sensitivity of the designated site. This can be established at the desktop phase and refined as the development/ project progresses.

The zone of influence for many developments may be restricted to direct effects such as the on-site loss of habitat on a designated site due to damage or destruction from land use change.

The zone of influence of some developments may be much greater as sites/ habitats can be affected by the implementation of actions off site which can adversely impact on the integrity of the site’s conservation objectives. For example, they may be significantly influenced by off-site factors such as hydrology and air pollution.

What do I do if my development affects a protected site?

Requirements from developers will range from site to site and will be proportionate to the degree of risk to biodiversity and the nature and scale of the development. I.e. the level of protection of the site and the likely impact of the development.

Bridgend CBC will require supporting information and conservation measures that are relevant, necessary and material to the application.

For example, developments on or likely to result in significant effects on a Natura 2000 site may be required to provide an appropriate assessment to assess its potential to adversely impact on the integrity of a site’s conservation objectives. Sites near a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation may be required to demonstrate that they will not directly impact on the site through a simple Method Statement such as root protection zones for trees or to follow vegetation clearance methodologies etc.

How do I determine the significance of the impacts of my development?

To determine the significance of any environmental harm or benefits requires the affected resource(s) and the potential impacts associated with the proposal to be examined.

The BS 42020 2012 refers to “significant impact” as an effect which is important, notable, or of consequence, having regard to its context. The significance of the impact will depend on the sensitivity of the resource that is affected and on the magnitude of any likely impacts.

Development and Natura 2000 Sites

The UK Government has a statutory requirement to maintain or achieve “Favourable Conservation Status” for wildlife in European sites of importance (Natura 2000 Sites) in Bridgend the Natura 2000 sites are represented by the Special Areas of Conservation (SAC).

The SAC sites represent the ‘highest tier’ of sites of importance for nature conservation in the County Borough. The LDP Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA) concludes that future development may have an impact on water resources affecting Kenfig and Cefn Cribwr SAC, and air quality affecting Blackmill Woodlands SAC. Developments will not be permitted in these areas where monitoring by the determining authorities indicates that there would be an over abstraction of water or decrease in air quality.

Under Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive, an appropriate assessment is required where a plan or project is likely to have a significant effect upon a European site, either individually or in combination with other projects.

It is the duty of all competent authorities to comply with Regulation 61 of the Habitats Regulations when assessing and recording their decisions for all relevant new plans and projects. Our understanding and interpretation of the Habitats Directive and Regulations including, in particular, the assessment of ‘plans and projects’, is continually developing and we continue to refer to up-to-date advice and guidance from statutory organisations such as relevant sections of TAN 5, the European Commission’s Managing Natura 2000 Sites and guidance such as Assessing Projects Under the Habitats Directive Guidance for Competent Authorities (2011).

Protected sites form the backbone of ecoconnectivity and green infrastructure through Bridgend CB and throughout Wales. See updated LBAP for maps of protected sites, ecosystem services and GI.

How do I determine the significance of the impacts of my development?

To determine the significance of any environmental harm or benefits requires the affected resource(s) and the potential impacts associated with the proposal to be examined.

The BS 42020 2012 refers to “significant impact” as an effect which is important, notable, or of consequence, having regard to its context. The significance of the impact will depend on the sensitivity of the resource that is affected and on the magnitude of any likely impacts.

Statutory and Non-Statutory Sites

Other Statutory Sites

Development close to National Nature Reserves, Local Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest will require direct consultation with both the Natural Resources Wales and Bridgend County Borough Council.

Non-Statutory Site

Development on, or close to, the non-statutory designations listed above should deliver to a net gain approach to biodiversity, i.e. more is created than is lost. Individual elements and species on those sites are still subject to legislation i.e. great crested newts, bats and water voles.


Mitigation Hierarchy

With respect to all designated sites the mitigation hierarchy will follow the following rules.


The first stage is to identify if the development can be managed or designed so as to avoid impact. If impact is unavoidable then there may be scope for mitigation through design and timing of development. In certain situations development may be allowed even where it has an adverse effect on integrity of the site. In all situations a rigorous and formulaic process of reporting should be followed in order to comply with European and national legislation.

Protection of existing high quality habitats such as unimproved grassland and irreplaceable habitats such as ancient woodlands should be prioritised over creating new habitats. Resources for long-term protection and management need to be addressed and incorporated into an agreed plan using relevant up-to-date information and ecological expertise.

Mitigation/ compensation

Any mitigation or compensation proposals must be carefully thought through to guarantee that they will be effective and implementable. This can often require protracted negotiation between developers, planners, nature conservation bodies and land owners. Skilled negotiation can identify proactive solutions which meet the needs of all parties and enable development while safeguarding sites.


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