Natural England - Planning and development

Planning and development

How we engage with the planning system and the advice we provide on planning and development matters.

Our engagement in the planning system

Dormouseveteran tree
Standing Advice for protected species, ancient woodland and veteran trees

Natural England works in partnership with local government, developers, local communities and other key stakeholders to ensure every opportunity is taken through the planning processes to protect, and wherever possible enhance, the natural environment.

Our aim is to ensure that the spatial planning system conserves and enhances the natural environment and delivers high quality, environmentally sustainable development on land and at sea. In particular we want to maximise the benefits from Green Infrastructure.

We are a statutory consultee on environmental assessment processes and many development proposals including that of Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects and the transport network. We are also a statutory consultee on Development Plans, Local Development Frameworks, Neighbourhood Development Plans and Orders, Community Right to Build Orders, best and most versatile agricultural land, and for minerals and waste consultations where an agricultural afteruse is proposed. We have produced a flow chart: (446kb)pdf document and table: (292kb)pdf document of consultation types to clarify when we should be consulted.

We have recently published a set of mapped Impact Risk Zones (IRZs) for SSSIs. This helpful GIS tool can be used by LPAs and developers to consider whether a proposed development is likely to affect an SSSI and determine whether they will need to consult Natural England to seek advice on the nature of any potential SSSI impacts and how they might be avoided or mitigated.

For guidance on how to access and use the Impact Risk Zones see our summary information sheet: (687kb)pdf document  and questions and answers: (442kb)pdf document.

We offer a Discretionary Advice Service (DAS) for planning proposals, which aims to help developers and consultants take appropriate account of environmental considerations at an early stage of proposal development, and minimise the risk of delays at the formal planning stage. This is particularly relevant to cases where Natural England is a statutory consultee (for example those affecting designated Natura 2000 sites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Marine Protected Areas and protected landscapes) and can cover both the pre-application and post-consent stages of development. Further information can be found on our Planning and licensing advice services for developers and consultants

As well as being the Government’s statutory conservation adviser for England and providing advice to planning authorities, we are also responsible for designated sites, such as National Parks and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and for granting applications for Protected Species licences.

The advice we provide is in line with Government policy and legislation, and we are publicly accountable to uphold it. Our role is to provide advice, but it is the responsibility of the relevant decision-maker to consider our advice when reaching a decision.

Natural England’s Planning and Development Advisory Services

How our service works

We have established a central hub for our planning and development advisory service. The hub assesses consultations quickly and efficiently, responding to straightforward cases directly. If a more detailed response is required on specific issues, the hub will forward the consultation onto one of our specialist local advisers for further action. We communicate all our formal advice by letter, usually sent electronically.

This system simplifies our processes and allows us to focus on those consultations which need the most detailed advice. We expect our service delivery to improve as a result of these changes and will welcome feedback on how we are doing.

Please help us to respond to your consultation promptly by following these steps:

  • Send all consultations electronically to and we will respond within 21 days provided we have received all the information needed to give an informed response. (Guidance on changes to the development control system: circular 08/2005external link).

  • Identify the timescale for a response (noting the 21 day deadline above).

  • If the consultation is particularly large or only available in hard copy, please use the postal address listed below. Large documents should be sent on a compact disc unless we advise otherwise.

  • Be specific about why you are consulting on a particular application. For example, what aspect of the proposals or the site do you require views on and please identify the relevant statutory provision that has triggered the consultation. This will help us reply to you more quickly.

Further ways to get the best from our service

Land use planning: Frequently asked questions

How to contact us

Planning and development consultations should be sent electronically to

TEN-T applications: please read our guidance: (168kb)pdf document on submitting TENT-T applications to Natural England for sign off, then send the relevant information electronically to

If the consultation is particularly large or only available in hard copy and it is not possible to email it to us, please post it to:
Natural England Consultation Service, Hornbeam House, Electra Way, Crewe Business Park, Crewe, Cheshire CW1 6GJ

How do I escalate a matter with you?

If you have consulted us on a planning matter and wish to discuss this with us, your first point of contact should be the adviser dealing with your consultation. If you are unsure who this is please ring the Enquiry line number below. If you remain dissatisfied with the advice you have received, please contact the relevant Casework Manager as detailed in our key contacts list: (114kb)excel spreadsheet.

We recognise there may be occasions when customers feel unhappy with our service. Our complaints procedure explains how to register a complaint if you are dissatisfied with the service you have received.

Other related contacts

General Enquiry Line: 0300 060 3900 during office hours (out of office hours 0845 600 3078) - for general planning queries. The team will direct your call to the most appropriate adviser who will be able to tell you who is dealing with your consultation and when you can expect a response.

European Protected Species (EPS) Mitigation Licensing - email

Non-EPS related Wildlife licensing - email

Our customer commitment

At Natural England we are committed to delivering an efficient and effective service to our customers and have published our Customer Promise, which sets out the standard of service our customers can expect from our staff.

Our role in the discharge of planning conditions and section 106 agreements

Our solutions focussed approach means that we often provide advice to planning authorities on mitigation measures to overcome impacts on the natural environment. Where requested to do so by local planning authorities, we will advise on appropriate wording for conditions or section 106 agreements (planning obligations) to secure the necessary mitigation measures as part of the planning permission.

We may also have a role in the discharge of such conditions or agreements, providing advice, on request, to planning authorities for example on subsequent landscape or construction management plans or by advising on the suitability of specific measures to protect designated sites or protected species.