Portishead Neighbourhood Plan Submission Consultation

Portishead Neighbourhood Plan 2022-2038

Policy PEN4: Biodiversity


3.28 The Neighbourhood Area is host to a range of wildlife sites and features. From the internationally important Severn Estuary RAMSAR site (also a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation) through to nationally important sites of ancient woodland, such as Weston Big Wood, as well as local nature reserves at Fore Hill and East Wood and Battery Point, Portishead’s wildlife sites and features support a rich overall wildlife network which contributes towards the wellbeing of wildlife and residents alike. However, we are also aware that human activity impacts on our local biodiversity such as with light pollution, and greater pressure on our ancient woodland, as demonstrated in the Portishead GBI Evidence Base Report (2022).

3.29 A record of habitats and biodiversity information has been obtained from Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre and from local group Wild Portishead, who are using online tool INaturalist to map and record wildlife in Portishead. This information is also included in the GBI Evidence Base Report.

3.30 Emerging North Somerset Local Plan Policy DP32 (Nature Conservation) outlines the emerging approach to nature and biodiversity conservation in the District. The GBI Evidence Base Report sets out detailed information on the existing biodiversity assets and nature conservation in Portishead. Proposals should pay particular attention to the objectives and recommendations set out in the Portishead GBI Evidence Base Report to help ensure that biodiversity improvement benefits local ecosystems and improves the range of ecosystem services that the GBI network provides.

3.31 Policy PEN4 is consistent with paragraph 174(d) of the NPPF, which requires a minimum 10% biodiversity net gain in new schemes. The emerging North Somerset Local Plan looks to deliver this at the North Somerset level through emerging policy DP33 (Biodiversity Net Gain). The biodiversity net gain approach follows on from the Government’s aim to ‘leave the environment in a better state than we found it’ in its 25 Year Environment Plan.

3.32 Policy PEN4 states that proposals that are within or outside a Site of Special Scientific Interest will not normally be permitted. For instance, this would apply to proposals which could affect the sensitive bird species and other habitats and species of the Severn Estuary. All designated SSSIs in the Portishead Neighbourhood Area are shown on Figure 4. 3.33 Paragraph 179(b) of the NPPF states that ‘plans should promote the conservation, restoration and enhancement of priority habitats, ecological networks and the protection and recovery of priority species; and identify and pursue opportunities for securing measurable net gains for biodiversity’.

Relevant Objective

O4 To protect and enhance the biodiversity of our area, recognising the important sites in Portishead that act as carbon sinks and sustain species under threat, including our small locally valued green spaces, nationally designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and internationally designated RAMSAR site and associated Salt Marshes.

Local Policy Context:

  • CS4 Nature conservation
  • DM8 Nature conservation
  • CS9 Green infrastructure


Development proposals will be expected to deliver a minimum of 10% net gain in biodiversity, including the enhancement and creation of ecological networks within and, where relevant, connecting with those beyond the Plan Area (see Figure 4). Proposals that exceed the minimum requirement of 10% biodiversity net gain will be particularly supported.

Protection, connection and enhancement of statutory and non-statutory nature conservation sites (as shown on Figure 4) is a priority for the Neighbourhood Area and development proposals must demonstrate sensitive responses to these sites where necessary, such as accommodating a buffer zone to protect sensitive habitats, or demonstrating that opportunities to reduce indirect impacts, such as light pollution, have been taken. Specific attention for priority habitats, as identified on Figure 6, and protected species should also be demonstrated.

Development that will adversely affect the integrity of sites of international importance for wildlife, including Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas and Ramsar sites, will not be permitted.

Any proposals that could affect sites of international importance for wildlife, including Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas and Ramsar Sites must carry out screening for Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA).

Development which is likely to have an adverse effect on an Site of Special Scientific Interest (either individually or in combination with other developments), will not normally be permitted.

Development which could harm, directly or indirectly, species which are legally protected, or species and habitats that have been identified as Species or Habitats of Principal Importance in England (also known as Section 41 or ‘Priority’ species and habitats) will not be permitted unless the harm can be avoided or mitigated by appropriate measures.

FIG 6: Priority Habitats:

Figure 6 Priority Habitats


  • Expand rewilding management regimes in order to increase biodiversity. Portishead Town Council support appropriately designed rewilding projects within the Town, understanding ‘rewilding’ as the ‘large-scale restoration of ecosystems to the point where nature is allowed to take care of itself’17. In Portishead, it is important that potential rewilding projects are well communicated with the nearby community and informed by community engagement to inform the type of project (including species etc.) that is suitable in each particular location. Recent NSC-led projects for tree planting in Portishead have had mixed results as a number of the saplings did not survive, either through lack of watering/care and/or accidental damage or vandalism due to trees being planted in the wrong locations. Better collaboration with knowledgeable local partners would help to ensure that appropriate projects are brought forward. There may be an opportunity for appropriate rewilding projects on the Portishead Town Councilowned land at the football fields on Bristol Road. This would need to be carefully managed to ensure that the recreation function of this important green space was protected and enhanced where possible.
  • Reduce pesticide usage and/or go pesticide free in some areas. Portishead Town Council supports this and has already banned the use of Glyphosate herbicide by Portishead Town Council in Portishead.
  • Encourage and support wildlife friendly gardening. Wild Portishead promotes this through campaigns such as the Metre Meadow18 which encourages people to leave a 1m2 unmown area of their garden and keep a note of how it develops; the species it attracts etc. Portishead in Bloom is another relevant local partner that already does a lot of good work to promote biodiversity. 


The recently passed legislation in the Environment Act requires developments to increase biodiversity value on site by at least 10%. This is a positive step towards nature recovery, but it relates only to sites that are being developed.

North Somerset Council recently declared an ecological emergency, recognising that the survival of our society and economy relies on the health of the natural environment and ecosystems. We need to do all that we can to increase biodiversity in Portishead, not just in areas where development is taking place.

There is opportunity for us to improve the wildlife value of our public realm and spaces; improving, rewilding and restoring natural habitats, increasing the range of ecosystem services they provide to improve health and wellbeing of residents as well as of ecological networks. These local community assets are within our management and have potential to secure biodiversity gains well in excess of 10%.

Portishead Town Council will work with local organisations and community groups to identify the best opportunities. This should be informed by Nature Recovery Network and Opportunities mapping from the West of England Nature Partnership and North Somerset Council’s rewilding map. These projects identify particular areas for biodiversity improvements, as well as the type of habitat most appropriate.