Protected species and development projects

Protected species of plants and animals

Many species of plants and animals in Wales, along with their habitats, are protected by law. What you can and can’t do by law varies from species to species.

The presence of a protected species is a material consideration when a local planning authority is considering a development proposal that, if carried out, would be likely to result in disturbance or harm to the species or its habitat.

See full list of European Protected Species and the UK Protected Species.

If you think protected species may be present on or near the site you wish to develop, you should commission a survey for protected species by an experienced and qualified ecologist. This will need to confirm whether or not a protected species is present, and to assess the likely impact of the development on any protected species present.

If you can’t avoid affecting a protected species, and you still want to go ahead with your plans, you’ll need to apply to us for a licence for European Protected Species or for a licence for a UK Protected Species.

You should try everything else possible to avoid affecting the species or damaging their habitats. Applying for a licence should be your last resort.

As part of your protected species survey, the ecologist will produce a protected species survey report. This should be included with your planning application. We require that ecologists include the 'protected species survey summary and assessment’ with the protected species survey report - you can find a template for this at the bottom of this page. We ask for this information so there is consistency across all the protected species survey reports we receive, and it helps us to work efficiently and effectively.


We have produced guidance which sets out our approach to bats and development planning. This is a work instruction for NRW staff, however it is also a helpful guide for local planning authorities on how to engage with us when considering development proposals which have the potential to affect bats.

If your scheme involves a linear infrastructure project, such as a highway or railway, we suggest that you use the survey methods and standard mitigation measures set out in Defra’s report: Development of a cost-effective method for monitoring the effectiveness of mitigation for bats crossing linear transport infrastructure.

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