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The council’s cabinet is to consider a countywide strategy to protect important natural habitat sites along the Essex coast.
If approved and later adopted, the strategy – known as the Essex Coast Recreation disturbance, Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy (RAMS) – would supplement planning policy in Southend-on-Sea and future planning applications along the coast would need to conform to it in order to secure planning permission.
The strategy would also see developers who build new homes along the Essex coastline charged a levy, which would go towards mitigating the impact of their development on the environment.
The majority of the Essex coastline is protected habitat sites, in particular for birdlife, stretching from the Blackwater in North Essex to the Thames Estuary.
Council officers have been working with the 11 other local planning authorities across Essex to develop a project steering group, creating a joint approach that considered the cross-boundary issues that would be addressed within local plans.
Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “Protecting and nurturing our local coastline and acting as a Green City are key priorities for us, and we are absolutely committed to doing just that.
“RAMS are promoted by Natural England and we are ensuring that we are working closely with them to create a strategy that ensures the Essex coastline is not only protected, but is enabled to thrive, particularly for birdlife. Having a joint planning approach is a simple and effective way of protecting and enhancing the internationally important wildlife of the Essex coast and I am pleased to see this work come forwards.
“Following surveys completed in 2018, we are now able to proceed with the next phase of the project which will involve consulting on a single planning document that will apply across much of the county. I am confident this strategy will be beneficial for residents and will ensure future developers proceed with caution when developing near coastal areas.”
“Here in Southend we have an abundance of wildlife and natural habitat that needs to be preserved, protected and enhanced and working together we can achieve this and ensure that future generations can enjoy and cherish our coastline.”