2.5 Protected Habitats

Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy
2.5 Protected Habitats

The statutory guidance requires that consideration is given to certain ecological systems or living organisms forming part of a system within protected locations, and the full list of habitat protection designations that must be considered is included in Appendix F: Categories of Significant Harm. Another designation that could be usefully added to the list is Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGS). The district is home to a number of protected sites as listed in the following sections.

2.5.1 Statutory Designations

English Nature is the regulatory Authority for the sites within the District listed below:

  • 22 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

  • 1 candidate Special Area of Conservation (SAC) of bat colonies to the south of the City.

  • Chew Valley Lake - SSSI and Special Protection Area (SPA) due to its international significance for migrating birds.

Complete lists of currently designated sites are included in Appendix H: Protected Habitats and Locations within the Borough.

B&NES District does not include any Ramsar sites, or marine or national nature reserves

2.5.2 Non-Statutory Designations

The following are designated and administered by the Council:

  • Sites of Special Biological Interest (SBIs)

  • Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SNCIs)

There are also 2 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) designated in the area; 1 surrounding Bath to the north, east and south of the urban area, and another covering the Mendips in the west of the area.

All protected habitat information is available on the Councils’ GIS, as well as in the Local Plan, and this will form the basis of a rapid screening exercise for any coincidence of potential sources of contamination and protected habitats.

2.6 Protected Locations and Key Property Types

The statutory guidance requires that consideration is given to property in the form of buildings which have not necessarily already been considered as occupied by people.

The City of Bath was inscribed on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in December 1987. This means that the whole of the City has been recognised as being “of outstanding universal value from the historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological points of view”.

English Heritage (EH) is the advisory body for the sites in the District as listed below, and the presence of such designated sites within the district will need to be confirmed and identified when assessing the potential for risks from contamination.

  • 11 Historic Parks and Gardens (designated by EH but decisions made by B&NES)

  • 1 Historic Battlefield (designated by EH but decisions made by B&NES)

  • The District is also home to the following:

  • 52 Scheduled Ancient Monuments (applications determined by Department of Culture, Media and Sport following advice from English Heritage)

  • 33 Conservation Areas (designated by B&NES, although developments within them are, in certain circumstances, referred to EH)

  • Listed Buildings (dealt with by B&NES, although Grade I and II* applications, and certain Grade II applications, are referred to EH)

It is also the responsibility of the property owner to protect Listed Buildings.

There are other designations made by the local authority, primarily sites and monuments of local interest. There may also be sites, yet to be identified and designated, that should be afforded protection, and early identification of such constraints will minimise any future conflicts.

Further details of protected locations are provided in Appendix H: Protected Habitats and Locations within the Borough, and on the Council’s GIS.

In addition, most of the hillsides overlooking Bath are protected from development by Green Belt designations stipulated in the Council’s Structure Plan [8].

2.7 Key Water Resource/Protection Issues

Wessex Water Services Limited is responsible for water supply, sewerage, sewage treatment and disposal in this area, and the Council monitors the quality of public, private and spa drinking water supplies.

Information relating to water resources and water protection areas in the District can be found on the Environment Agency’s website [10] in the “What’s In Your Backyard?” section, as well as within the Local Environment Agency Plan for Bristol Avon catchment area [9].

Controlled waters are defined by the legislation(2) and the following sub-sections describe the principal controlled waters which occur across the District.

(2) Section 78A(9) of [4]

2.7.1 Surface Waters

Most of the District is drained by the River Avon and its tributaries the River Chew and the Cam and Wellow Brooks (shown in Figure 5 of the Wansdyke Local Plan [7]). The Avon and its tributaries rise on the unspoilt hills of the Cotswolds, Salisbury Plain and the Mendips before flowing through areas of intensively managed farmland and increasing urbanisation to the sea beyond Bristol. The main River Avon is a slow-flowing lowland clay river, which has been modified by impoundment, land drainage and flood alleviation engineering.

A small area in the south west of the District is within the catchment of the Yeo, which drains westward directly to the Severn Estuary.

Between Freshford and Bath the Avon has cut down through the oolitic limestone to form the deep Limpley Stoke Valley. Similar steep-sided valleys have been formed by the tributaries the Lam, St. Catherine’s and By Brook.

East of Bath the Lias limestone hems in the river, but between Saltford and Keynsham the valley opens out where the Avon crosses the softer Lias clays and the river is fringed by an extensive floodplain.

West of Keynsham the river has again cut through more resistant rocks, the Pennant sandstone, to form a distinctive gorge where it leaves the District near Hanham.

Rising in the Mendip Hills the River Chew flows north to join the Avon at Keynsham. Where it runs across the soft Keuper Marl in its upper reaches the river valley is broad but downstream of Pensford it narrows where the sandstone of the Upper Coal Measures have offered more resistance. At Keynsham the valley narrows further as the Chew has cut through the Lias limestone to enter the Avon.

The Cam and Wellow Brooks are the most significant tributaries in the south of the district. Running parallel they flow west to east to join at Midford before entering the Avon at Monkton Combe. Both have created relatively narrow and steep valleys where they have cut through the resistant Lias and Oolitic limestones.

The Conygre Brook which joins the Avon on the west side of Bath drains the central part of the District. Like the Cam and Wellow Brooks, the Conygre Brook has eroded the Lias and Oolitic limestones to form a narrow, steep valley.


The rivers and brooks of the District have floodplains which are subject to flood risk. The Wansdyke and Bath Local Plans [7][8] hold details of these areas, and the Council’s Emergency Management Unit has worked with the Environment Agency to update Flood Plans.

This is important for contamination issues, as developments on floodplains may introduce pathways for contaminants, from what were previously believed to be “unavailable” sources, during times of flooding.

The Environment Agency website [10] has indicative floodplain maps available to view, in the “What’s in Your Backyard?” section. The Agency has also provided the Council with digital information regarding floodplain areas, which will be utilised during the inspection process.

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