What is the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (TBH SPA)?
The TBH SPA consists of tracts of lowland heath which stretch over parts of Surrey, Berkshire and Hampshire. The heath supports distinctive flora and fauna, some of which are under threat and in decline.
The TBH SPA was designated on 9 March 2005 as a Special Protection Area and is part of Natura 2000, a European-wide network of sites of international importance for nature conservation established under the European Community Wild Birds and Habitat directives.
The SPA is one of the South East's most important natural assets, supporting important populations of Dartford Warbler, Nightjar and Woodlark - vulnerable ground-nesting birds.
All of the SPA is based on Sites of Special Scientific Importance. Some is also designated as Special Areas of Conservation.
How much of Surrey Heath is in the TBH SPA?
The SPA covers most of the heathland areas of the borough. These are:
How does the SPA affect new development in Surrey Heath?
The European and national legislation that underpins the SPA seeks to ensure that any proposed development scheme or development plan will not adversely affect the integrity of the SPA.
Natural England is the Government agency that champions the conservation of wildlife throughout England. They have advised the Council, and the other 10 local authorities with land in the Thames Basin Heaths that new housing within 5 kilometres of the SPA may harm the rare bird populations. This harm can be caused by disturbance to the birds from a growth in the number of walkers, cats and dogs frequenting the heathland, and other recreational uses created by additional housing. Particular harm may occur with additional new development that lies within 400m of the SPA.
All of Surrey Heath lies within 5 km of the SPA and a significant proportion lies within 400m.
Both Policy NRM6 of the South East Plan, and Policy CP14a of the CS&DMP DPD contain policies prohibiting additional housing within 400 metres of the SPA.
Developers wishing to promote additional housing in the 400m to 5km zone will be required to demonstrate that their proposals can avoid any likely significant adverse effect on the SPA. This can be done using the mitigation measures known as SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace) and SAMM (Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Measures)
View details on the existing SANG solutions and their operation in the Borough
View information on the SAMM and the required contributions
Joint Strategic Partnership Board
The Thames Basin Heaths Joint Strategic Partnership (JSP) was established to plan the long-term protection of the Thames Basin Heaths SPA in a consistent and coordinated way. Surrey Heath currently hosts the Secretariat for the JSP Board.