Defra's review of Habitats and Wild Birds Directive (the Directives) implementation found evidence of a lack of capacity in competent authorities for dealing with habitats and species issues. Measure 28 from the review was to explore new ways of supporting, developing and managing ecological expertise especially as tough decision making in the light of economic constraints may reduce further the in house availability of local authority ecologist. Further consideration by The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and the Association of Local Government Ecologists (ALGE) identified a shortfall in the capacity and confidence of LPAs in managing risks in relation to European sites and species. A partnership was developed between Defra, CIEEM, ALGE and The Planning Officers Society to take forward this exploration in the form of a workshop.
The workshop held on 5th July 2013 set out to capture the experience of those who manage the risks associated with planning on a daily basis; to share with local authorities the range of different solutions which can be used to manage risks and identify whether there are areas of support which are common and may be delivered by the industry.