The Environment Agency will stop commenting on the biodiversity aspects of planning applications as a way to cope with its reduced budget.
Its biodiversity team will no longer tell councils if developments are going to damage watercourses or habitats, or advise them on potential mitigation options. Councils will have to rely on agency guidance instead. The team comments on about 3,500 applications a year.
NGOs and council bodies are concerned about the decision. The RSPB says the change could lead to increased pollution to watercourses making it harder for the UK to meet targets under the EU Water Framework Directive.