The protection of biodiversity and other key ecological features is a fundamental part of sustainable development. New development must minimise harm to existing biodiversity and aim to enhance habitats and wildlife.

The council also has a role to play in responding to national and local duties and strategies to halt the loss of biodiversity. 

Statutory nature conservation sites

Southampton has a number of areas designated as sites of international and national nature conservation importance. The city council has statutory duties to protect such sites and their interest features and to enhance their conservation value.

The sites include:

  • River Itchen Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) 
  • Solent and Southampton Water Special Protection Area (SPA) 
  • Lee-on-the Solent to Itchen Estuary Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) 
  • Southampton Common Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) 
  • Solent Maritime Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)

Local nature conservation sites

Locally important wildlife sites have a fundamental role to play in meeting biodiversity targets and contributing to quality of life. Developments should avoid harm to local sites. Habitat protection and enhancement measures within developments can enhance their biodiversity and community value.

Local Sites within Southampton designated as Sites of Interest for Nature Conservation (SINCs) are identified on the Development Plan proposals map and reasons for designation within the appendices to the plan. Policy NE3 of the revised Local Plan establishes the council’s protection of local sites.

Protected species

Protected species such as bats, badgers, great crested newt and slow worms are present within the city and can be encountered during development. As many species are mobile and have adapted their behaviour to the urban environment, their absence from areas of the city cannot be assumed based on geographical information alone. Such species can be found in gardens and predominantly built-up areas if habitat is suitable.