Wealden District Council

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Habitat Regulations Assessment

Ashdown Forest Monitoring

Large parts of Ashdown Forest (2,729 hectares) are designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The SAC status was awarded because Ashdown Forest contains one of the largest single continuous blocks of lowland heath in south-east England. The SAC designation recognises the special nature of the vegetation found within Ashdown Forest, namely European dry heaths and North Atlantic wet heath and affords it legal protection by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2012 (as amended) which transposes the requirements of the European Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC).

Wealden District Council is required to consider the effects of new developments on the integrity of the SAC. This includes considering the effect of new development on the SAC with regards to an increase in traffic that may result from such development. This is on the basis that excess nitrogen or an increase in nitrogen from more cars on the road or an increase in car journeys across the forest may result in damage to the protected species or a net decrease of species or habitat cover.

The information currently available on this subject suggests that there is an existing problem concerning nitrogen and the protected heathland habitats within the Ashdown Forest. However, the contribution of traffic emissions to effects on the Ashdown Forest SAC is not currently known. Wealden District Council has therefore commissioned Ecus Ltd to investigate the effects of nitrogen from road traffic. This includes air quality monitoring and vegetation surveys to gain a greater scientific understanding of the effects of air pollutants on the protected heathland species, which will be greatest within 200m of the road. If significant effects are identified, then this will inform the development of planning policies and whether certain development proposals may take place now or in the future.

The Ashdown Forest Visitor Studies are available below;

There are a number of Ashdown Forest - Frequently Asked Questions and an Ashdown Forest air quality and vegetation monitoring leaflet (pdf) is available to download.

Pevensey Levels

The Pevensey Levels, between Eastbourne and Bexhill, is one of the largest and least fragmented lowland wet grassland systems in the southeast England. Designated a Ramsar site for the outstanding assemblage of ditch flora and fauna supporting wetland plants, invertebrates including the rare Fen Raft spider, aquatic beetles and dragonflies amongst others.

The Pevensey Levels are also a Site of Community Importance (SCI), designated for the presence of the Ramshorn snail which can be found here in both a wide spatial distribution and in good population densities. They are also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Natural Nature Reserve (NNR), and need to be protected from any development impacts that may affect its European and national designations. Further work on this will be progressed through the Wealden Local Plan.

Wealden District Council received a Position Statement from Southern Water in relation to Hailsham North and Hailsham South Wastewater Treatment Works in June 2015. Further information relating to the Pevensey Levels can be found in the Air Quality Consultants report for the Habitats Regulations Assessment, available to download below: 

Previous reports are also available:

Lewes Downs SAC

The Lewes Downs has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a National Nature Reserve (NNR), due to its orchid-rich chalk grassland and scrub vegetation, which contains numerous southern and oceanic-southern species. It also supports a rich invertebrate fauna, including moths and a breeding community of downland birds.

The report below considers the potential for adverse air quality impacts on the Lewes Downs Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The assessment is intended to assist Wealden District council in meeting its Habitats Regulations duty as relevant to plan making and in particular the Wealden Local Plan.