Wealden District Council
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Habitat Regulations Assessment

Ashdown Forest SAC

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 2017 (as amended) which transposes the requirements of the European Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC).

The main threat to the SAC relates to air pollution and the Council has commissioned a number of reports that include considering the effect of new development on the Ashdown Forest SAC with regards to an increase in additional traffic movements resulting from development across the forest. These studies are provided below:

Ashdown Forest SPA

Large parts of the Ashdown Forest (3,205 hectares) are designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA). The SPA status was awarded for a number of qualifying individual species that includes the Dartford Warbler and nightjar that the SPA supports during their breeding season. Natural England last published the conservation objectives for Ashdown Forest SPA on 21 February 2019 where it aims to ensure that the integrity of the site is maintained or restored as appropriate, and ensure that the site contributes to achieving the aims of the Wild Birds Directives. The main threats to those qualifying features includes the disturbance by humans and recreational activities, development pressure and the loss of nesting/feeding habitats. The Ashdown Forest SPA is also legally protected through the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended).

The Ashdown Forest Visitor Studies are available below:

Pevensey Levels

The Pevensey Levels, between Eastbourne and Bexhill, is one of the largest and least fragmented lowland wet grassland systems in the southeast of England. The Pevensey Levels site is designated as 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 species.

The Pevensey Levels is also designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The SAC status was awarded for the presence of the Ramshorn snail which can be found here in both a wide spatial distribution and in good population densities. The Pevensey Levels are required to be protected from any detrimental development impacts that may affect its environmental designations.

Information and studies relating to Pevensey Levels are provided below:

Previous reports in relation to impact of development within Wealden District on hydrology/ wastewater for the Pevensey Levels are also available below:

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 reports below consider the potential for adverse air quality impacts on the Lewes Downs Special Area of Conservation (SAC). These assessments are intended to assist Wealden District Council in meeting its duty in relation to Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended) as relevant to plan making.