The Council is committed to development only taking place if it is sustainable development that includes relevant environmental protections.

The quality of the natural environment in our area is of a particularly high standard. The Teifi River is a Special Area of Conservation. Within this area various locations are of national and international significance for wildlife. Thus the Teifi River is designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the Conservation of Habitats & Species Regulations 2017, as amended (“The Habitat Regulations”).

We have recently received a letter from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) about the high levels of phosphates in the Teifi. The same letter has also been sent to the other Local Planning Authorities in Wales in relation to the Teifi as well as other SAC water bodies.

In light of a court Judgement (known as “The Dutch Case”), NRW have advised Ceredigion County Council that, in light of the unfavourable condition of the Teifi SAC, before determining a planning application that may give rise to additional phosphates within the catchment, competent authorities should undertake a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA).

Ceredigion County Council is a ‘competent authority’ under the Habitats Regulations, and thus means the council is legally required to assess the potential impacts of projects and plans, on internationally important sites which include the Teifi SAC. In its role as competent authority, the council must carry out a ‘Habitat Regulations Assessment’ on any relevant planning application that falls within the boundary and catchment areas as shown on the plan (for which there is a link below). Where there is a ‘Likely Significant Effect’, the council must carry out an ‘Appropriate Assessment’ in order to determine, with scientific certainty, that there would be no ‘Adverse Effect on Integrity’ on the designated site from the plan or project, either alone or in combination with other plans and projects.

The council takes this into account when considering whether planning permission can be granted. If it cannot be proven that there would not be an adverse effect on integrity, then planning permission cannot be granted without further stringent consideration under the Habitats Regulations. NRW is a statutory consultee on appropriate assessments and provides advice to competent authorities in relation to sites designated such as SACs. Local Planning Authorities must have regard to the advice given by NRW when making planning decisions (for both individual developments and local development plans (LDP)). NRW’s advice should be given considerable weight, but competent authorities are entitled to depart from it where they can give cogent reasons for doing so.

The types of development impacted by this requirement include (but are not limited to):

  • New residential units - including tourist accommodation, gypsy & traveller sites /pitches, student accommodation, care homes etc.
  • Commercial developments - new commercial floor space including extensions to existing, change of use from one business to another where there is an increase in employees and/or to a use that would impact on wastewater.
  • Agricultural Development - additional barns, slurry stores etc.
  • Prior Notifications of agricultural development where, as a result of the development, the amount or concentrations of wastewater discharge is increased.
  • Anaerobic Digesters
  • Tourism attractions
  • Permitted development to an existing property (e.g. extensions) that increases the volume of foul drainage (e.g. as a result of increased occupancy).

Further information on the types of development impacted by this direction and those which are not, is available on the NRW interim planning guidance documents for which there are links below.

Natural Resources Wales / Tighter phosphate targets change our view of the state of Welsh rivers

Be assured we are working with our Ecology team and Natural Resources Wales to introduce appropriate procedures for our decision making as quickly as possible. We will update this note with further information as soon as we are able and we will be regularly updating the web page to keep you informed of progress.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact planning@ceredigion.gov.uk
Planning Services
Ceredigion County Council

February 2021