Ecological enhancement measures are those that actually improve the ecological condition of the development site (or an alternative site) after the development is complete. Ecological enhancement measures must, therefore, be over and above any avoidance, mitigation and compensation measures required to neutralise the impacts of the development on wildlife. Developments that provide ecological enhancements should be looked upon more favourably by the local planning authority.
The law, central government planning policy and, increasingly, local planning policy, now point towards the enhancement of biodiversity as part of the development process. Features that are increasingly being included in development designs as measures to enhance site biodiversity include:
- Setting aside space within the development site in which to create woodland, wetland, wildflower meadows or other habitats of value to wildlife
- Using native plants in the landscaping design, which are of value in their own right and as habitat for other wildlife
- The addition of a green roof on one or more buildings, providing habitat for plants and animals typical of brownfield sites
- The use of climbing plants on walls within the new development which can provide shelter and foraging opportunities for wildlife
- The inclusion of bird and bat boxes within the structure of new buildings
- Use of sustainable urban drainage systems which double as wildlife habitats, for example, swales and balancing ponds
An alternative to including biodiversity features within the design of the new development may be to finance the enhancement of a nearby site of nature conservation interest or even the creation of new habitats on other land of low current ecological value.