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Special Areas of Conservation

Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) are protected areas in the UK. A SAC is land identified under Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora.

The aim of SACs is:

  • to promote the conservation of habitats, wild animals and plants, both on land and sea
  • to make a significant contribution to conserving habitats and species

Find out more on the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) website about:

Protecting SACs

The European Habitat Regulations set out a duty for local authorities to protect a SAC from harm, including from new development. As the competent authority, Walsall Council must ensure that planning decisions do not have any negative impact on the SAC.

If a planning application is found to cause harm to the SAC, we will:

  • refuse permission, or
  • ensure appropriate mitigation measures are secured

Cannock Extension Canal SAC

The Cannock Extension Canal SAC is home to the rare floating water-plantain (Luronium natans). This endangered plant grows along the length of the Cannock Extension Canal.

The canal is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This is because the conditions that make it a good habitat for floating water plantain mean it is home to lots of other important species as well.

This diverse floral habitat has formed as result of high water quality, uneven canal bottom and the low amount of boat traffic that uses it. It is the richest known waterway of its type in Staffordshire and the West Midlands with 34 different aquatic plants.

You can find out more about this on Natural England’s SSSI website.

We will deal with any developments that are likely to have an adverse impact on this SAC on a case by case basis. In this case, the harm is most likely to occur through changes to the water quality or air quality in and around the SAC.

You can find more information about the Cannock Extension Canal on the Canal & River Trust's website.

Cannock Chase SAC 

Around 20% of the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a designated SAC. This covers European dry heathland habitat known to be one of the best areas of UK and the biggest one in the Midlands region. 

Increasing visitor numbers mean that this important habitat can become damaged. 

Cannock Chase SAC partnership

The partnership was formed by local councils, with the aim of conserving the SAC. It has identified that new housing development, visitor accommodation and tourism use within 15km of the SAC could have a significant impact upon it. 

This 15km radius of Cannock Chase SAC is referred to as the ‘zone of influence’. Part of Walsall borough falls within this zone.

What this means for developers

We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Cannock Chase SAC partnership. This will allow developers in Walsall to provide a development contribution towards the SAC to mitigate any recreational impacts of the relevant development.  

It applies to developments within the 15km zone of influence, which would lead to a net increase (1 or more) of dwellings, including: 

  • any housing development
  • tourist accommodation, including caravan sites
  • conversion of buildings into dwellings
  • agricultural workers dwellings
  • houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs)
  • care homes that fall under use Class C3
  • prior approval applications for the creation of dwellings
  • Gypsy, Traveller and travelling showperson’s accommodation (except showman's yards with no accommodation attached)
  • new horse/pony trekking centres, livery yards or significant extensions to existing ones

You can find out more about the development contributions needed for an application submission in the guidance document below.

If your development is one of the types listed above and located within the 15km zone of influence you will need to complete the habitat regulation assessment (HRA) form. You'll find this in appendix 1. Send this at the same time as your application.

Download list

You can find more information on the specific criteria in the FAQ document below:

Download list

There's information about the evidence base on the SAC partnership website.

Contact us

Get in touch with the planning policy team if you'd like to know more.

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