Planning

SWT Volunteer WILDLIFE & HABITATS PROTECTOR within our Planning Volunteer Team

What qualities do you need?

  • Some time to give each week / most weeks, but flexibly – no set times

  • Interest in protecting our local valuable wildlife and habitats

  • Willingness to learn and to persevere

  • Common sense

  • Like working in a good team

  • Basic IT skills and basic map-reading skills help a lot, but these can be learned

  • Can be an ‘armchair’ role - if a site visit is required, another Team Member can do it and feed back

  • Occasionally, a wry or dark sense of humour helps!

We can offer tailored training, mostly online at present, but option for in-person when it is safe

Examples of training topics:

  • Introduction to how Local Authority Planning System and Scottish Forestry Public Registers work (as far as relevant to our work)

  • How to monitor applications and pick out the relevant ones for our purposes

  • How to research the range of issues relevant to an application (Lots can be done via online data resources, but sometimes site visits are important too)

  • Use of the NBN Atlas Scotland as a key research tool and gateway to other useful resources

  • How to write information points and associated recommendations for our Team’s responses to Planning Services or to Scottish Forestry

Skills/knowledge you can develop through our Team’s work:

  • An understanding of the Scottish Planning System and Scottish Forestry Regulation System

  • Knowledge of Protected Species ecology

  • Knowledge of site and species Conservation Designations

  • Knowledge of wildlife and habitat legislation and planning policy


These skills and knowledge are very relevant to jobs in Ecological Consultancy roles as well as in some Conservation roles.

Two of the many ways of researching a site





More Background Information here about the work of our Planning Team over a recent year, including some numbers.

Our Planning Team’s work started at the re-founding of our Group in 2000 / 2001. At that point, only 1 person was involved. Initially, the focus was on preventing / minimising damage to important habitats and species by new development dealt with via Local Authority Planning Services. We operate in line with SWT HQ’s guidelines.

These days, after growing gradually over the years, we are a team of 7, some of us with more time to commit than others. We now have 2 areas of focus, the first is new development via Local Authority Planning Services, as before. The second focus is newer, starting about 7 years ago, the creation of New Woodland/Forestry that is dealt with via Scottish Forestry’s Regulatory system, along with applications for Permission to Fell existing forestry and Restock the Site.

This means 2 separate complex systems to get our heads round, so there’s always lots to learn.

Around the Planning Team itself, we have developed a wider group of knowledgeable naturalists who we sometimes turn to for help and advice, before responding to applications. (So often, good naturalists are lovely people too!) In addition, we continue to develop good working relationships with various NGOs and others, who have specialist knowledge of fish, mammals, birds, amphibians, plants etc. We often share information back and fore with these NGOs to mutual benefit. Having these local networks is a really important element of being able to respond well as a Community Group to new proposals and to other public consultations.

Some recent figures(approximate) on Planning Team responses over an average recent year.

Local Authority Planning Work

Revision of Local Development Plan

Research and response 1

Research and response to individual proposals 73

(This includes from minor to very major responses)

Scottish Forestry work

Felling Permission and Restock

(Research and response at least 2-3 hrs) 17

Forestry Grant Scheme Woodland Creation

(Research and response at least 2-5hrs) 12

Concerns raised by SWT members/members of public

Research + response 6

Responses to National Public Consultations

Research and response 4

Examples:

UK Woodland Assurance Standards (Team response)

NPF4 (National Planning Framework 4. (Several of Team responded individually)

Final comment

Planning Team work is quite challenging, and we don’t always have the level of impact we would like, but we keep developing our skills, always with the aim of achieving more impact. This strategy is working over time. Some of us started as novices, some started with existing skills / expertise. We aim to use the strengths of all Team members to give the most rounded, best quality output we possibly can. When we need it, we can seek support from our link Staff Member at Scottish Wildlife Trust HQ.