Publication Local Plan, Chapter 23: Biodiversity and geodiversity

Creating a fairer Salford by:

  • Improving access to nature for people in all parts of the city, including within higher density areas and other neighbourhoods poorly served at present
  • Significantly enhancing the city’s overall biodiversity interest for the benefit of existing and future residents

23.1 The government’s 25 Year Environment Plan [1] recognises that in order to leave the environment in a better condition for the next generation, we need to restore and create wildlife habitats, looking beyond existing designated sites to the wider environment. The national biodiversity strategy [2] recognises that biodiversity is important not just in its own right but because it is critical to human survival. It provides us with services that are vital to our wellbeing and economic prosperity. The UK National Ecosystem Assessment concluded that decision-making consistently undervalues nature, and that many of the services that it provides are in decline [3]. The message at the national level is therefore clear that biodiversity issues need to be taken more seriously and are a key component of sustainable development.

23.2 The Local Plan seeks to respond to this challenge through a comprehensive range of measures aimed at ensuring that Salford’s biodiversity resources are protected and enhanced. The overarching aim is to deliver a significant net gain in the city’s overall biodiversity value, and to enhance the ability of ecological networks to adapt to climate change. All parts of the city and all developments have a role to play in this, and the cumulative benefit of small-scale improvements in biodiversity resources should not be underestimated. Other policies in the plan will support biodiversity improvements, particularly those relating to green infrastructure (chapter 22) and the quality of water bodies (policy WA1).

23.3 There are no nationally or internationally designated sites in Salford at present, but a Site of Special Scientific Interest is proposed at the heronry in Botany Bay Wood. The local designation of Sites of Biological Importance (SBIs) is assessed at the Greater Manchester level, and there are currently 32 such sites in Salford. Many of the SBIs include priority habitats identified in the national and/or local biodiversity action plans, although such habitats are also found in other locations across the city.

23.4 The establishment of a Biodiversity Heartland within Chat Moss offers the most significant opportunity to enhance Salford’s biodiversity resources, with the potential to secure significant areas of lowland raised bog restoration, which is a European priority habitat. This area forms part of a wider ecological network within the Great Manchester Wetlands Nature Improvement Area, which extends into Warrington and Wigan, where it includes the Manchester Mosses Special Area of Conservation. There are numerous opportunities elsewhere in Salford to secure significant biodiversity enhancements, ranging from strategic areas such as the Irwell Valley to individual development sites.

Nature Improvement Areas

23.5 The Great Manchester Wetlands Nature Improvement Area (NIA) was adopted by the Greater Manchester and Cheshire Local Nature Partnerships in May 2013, and currently covers around 48,000 hectares extending across parts of Salford, Wigan and Warrington. The area of the NIA within Salford is shown on the Policies Map and in Figure 19. There is scope for the boundary of the NIA to change in the future, should circumstances change.

23.6 The main focus of the NIA can be broadly split into three different landscapes:

  • The Mosslands, defined by the peaty soils and the flat topography associated with the former lowland bogs, which accounts for that part of the NIA within Salford and extends into Wigan and Warrington
  • The Mersey Valley Wetlands Corridor, which has the Glaze Brook along the south-western edge of Salford as its eastern boundary and lies within Warrington
  • The Flashes in Wigan

23.7 The vision is for the NIA to become an exemplar of biodiversity restoration, enhancement and the delivery of landscape-scale ecological networks. A central part of this is to deliver a coherent collection of wetland habitats that will help to buffer existing designated sites and connect important habitats to allow free movement of key species, which will become increasingly important in mitigating the impacts of climate change. The whole of the Chat Moss area in Policy GI2 falls within the NIA, and the Biodiversity Heartland is one of the priority areas for habitat restoration and creation.

23.8 The NIA designation does not prevent new development. However, a location within the NIA makes it essential that a high level of green infrastructure is incorporated within the development site in order to increase the area of priority habitats, improve connectivity between habitats and species populations, and enable the movement of species within the NIA and beyond, and also for development to contribute to off-site improvements within the Biodiversity Heartland to help deliver the NIA objectives. The provision that is expected will vary depending on the characteristics of the site and its location within the NIA.

23.9 The further designation of Nature Improvement Areas will be supported where appropriate, with the Irwell Valley being a high priority.

Policy BG1 Nature Improvement Areas

The area of Salford within the Great Manchester Wetlands Nature Improvement Area as shown on the Policies Map will be managed so as to:

  1. Mitigate the impact of environmental pressures by improving species mobility between Lancashire, Cheshire and Greater Manchester;
  2. Make a lasting improvement to some of Britain’s rarest habitats by restoring designated sites and priority habitats;
  3. Improve regional and local connectivity for critical species by creating stepping stones and corridors between habitats and populations; and
  4. Optimise the ecosystem services provided by all habitats, particularly the carbon storage function of lowland raised bog.

Development will be carefully controlled to support the achievement of these objectives across the Great Manchester Wetlands Nature Improvement Area, and nature conservation projects will be encouraged.

Development and biodiversity

23.10 If development is to be genuinely sustainable then it will be vital for it to play a full role in protecting and enhancing Salford’s biodiversity resources. Development generates opportunities to help achieve an overall nature conservation benefit, and it will often be possible to secure significant improvements through relatively simple measures, such as the incorporation of green infrastructure and features including bird/bat boxes and bricks that can enable wildlife to disperse throughout the city. On-site biodiversity improvements will also be vital to enhancing the liveability of urban areas, and improving the connection of people to nature, particularly as development densities increase.

23.11 The ways in which developments secure a net gain in biodiversity value will vary considerably and be relative to the scale and nature of the site. Major developments will need to use the most up to date Defra metric [4] or equivalent in order to assess current biodiversity value and demonstrate a net gain in biodiversity value of at least 10%. Minor developments will assess biodiversity and demonstrate net gain in a manner that is proportionate to the site. On some sites, the focus will be on the retention of existing habitats. For others, this may be impracticable, and it may be necessary instead to make significant provision for new habitats either on- or off-site. It can be challenging to establish new habitats, and this will be taken into account when assessing the appropriateness of proposed mitigation measures. It is essential that the most important and irreplaceable habitats in the city are protected, and so mitigation rather than retention will not be appropriate in some circumstances. It will also be important to ensure that invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed are controlled.

23.12 In the case of the Biodiversity Heartland, it will be important not just to protect the biodiversity resources that already exist, but also to support restoration schemes and secure further enhancements in the area’s nature conservation value where possible. This reflects the overall strategic importance of this area both within Salford and as part of a wider ecological network.

Policy BG2 Development and biodiversity

All development shall deliver a net gain in biodiversity value. All major development shall deliver at least a 10% net gain in biodiversity value.

Development shall avoid having any adverse impact on the nature conservation value of the following hierarchy of sites, with the weight afforded to their protection reflecting their position in the hierarchy (greatest weight first) along with legislative and national policy requirements:

  1. Internationally designated sites, including the Manchester Mosses Special Area of Conservation in Wigan and Warrington, and the Rixton Clay Pits Special Area of Conservation in Warrington
  2. Irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and ancient or veteran trees
  3. Nationally designated sites, such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserves
  4. Locally designated sites, such as Sites of Biological Importance and Local Nature Reserves
  5. Other parts of the Biodiversity Heartland in Chat Moss

Harm to other priority habitats shall be avoided wherever practicable.

Where an adverse impact on biodiversity is unavoidable then this shall be minimised as far as possible and appropriate compensation provided for any remaining adverse impacts.

Compensation for adverse impacts on biodiversity resources

Where compensation is needed, an offsetting mechanism based on the Defra biodiversity offsetting metric will be used to calculate requirements. As explained in the Greater Manchester Biodiversity Net Gain Guidance, the metric determines the amount of compensation required having regard to:

  1. The area of biodiversity resources affected;
  2. The importance of the biodiversity resources that will be adversely affected, particularly in terms of:
    1. The distinctiveness of the habitats;
    2. The condition of the habitats;
    3. The strategic significance of the habitat location; and
    4. An allowance for the habitats’ role within a wider ecological network.

The biodiversity value of any mitigation or compensation proposals will be measured in line with the Greater Manchester Biodiversity Net Gain Guidance or any subsequent guidance which supersedes this. New habitats will be scored in relation to points 1) and 2) above. Measurement will also make an allowance for risk factors such as the difficulty of creating new habitats, the time to reach target habitat condition and the distance of the new habitat from the site affected by development.

Where compensation is required for the reduction or loss of existing biodiversity resources then this shall be provided in line with the following principles, with the objective of contributing to the creation of a coherent, high quality ecological network:

  1. A preference for on-site habitat provision/enhancement wherever practicable, followed by improvements to sites within the local area, and then other sites elsewhere within Salford, particularly the Biodiversity Heartland;
  2. The maintenance and where possible enhancement of the ability of plants and animals including pollinating insects to move, migrate and genetically disperse across the city; and
  3. The provision/enhancement of priority habitats identified at the national, Greater Manchester or local level, having regard to the scarcity of that habitat within Salford.

Monitoring of compensation measures will be required to ensure effectiveness, with further compensation being required in the event of initial measures being ineffective. Ongoing management of any new or improved habitats together with monitoring and reporting will need to be planned and funded for 25 years.

Development in the Biodiversity Heartland

Within the Biodiversity Heartland, development proposals shall take all practicable opportunities to enhance the area’s nature conservation value.

Invasive Species

All development shall secure the eradication of invasive species within the site boundary.

Biodiversity assets shown on the Policies Map

The local nature reserves, sites of biological importance and ancient woodland in Salford are shown on the Policies Map:

Local Nature Reserves

  1. Blackleach Country Park
  2. Clifton Country Park
  3. Kersal Dale
  4. Kersal Moor
  5. Three Sisters
  6. Worsley Woods
  7. Kersal Wetland (proposed)
  8. Clifton Moss (proposed)
  9. Little Woolden Moss (proposed)

Sites of Biological Importance

  1. Alder Forest Marsh
  2. Bittern Pits Wood
  3. Blackleach Reservoir
  4. Botany Bay Wood
  5. Brickfield Wood
  6. Bridgewater Canal
  7. Brindle Heath Junction
  8. Cadishead Moss
  9. Clifton Country Park
  10. Clifton Moss (South)
  11. Foxhill Glen
  12. Grassland and Heath off Clively Avenue
  13. Great Woolden Wood
  14. How Clough
  15. Kersal Dale
  16. Kersal Moor
  17. Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal at Agecroft
  18. Marsh near Clifton Junction
  19. Middle Wood
  20. Old River Irwell
  21. Ponds near New Manchester (East)
  22. Ponds North of Cleworth Hall (North)
  23. River Irwell
  24. Salford Quays (North)
  25. Springside Reservoirs
  26. Three Sisters
  27. Towns Gate Lake and Marsh
  28. Twelve Yards Road
  29. Walkden Reservoir
  30. Woodland North of Moss Farm
  31. Worsley Filterbeds
  32. Worsley Woods

Ancient woodland

  1. Ancient Woodland at Clifton Wood (part of Clifton Country Park site of biological importance)

There are currently no internationally or nationally designated sites in Salford.


Major development is defined as in The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015, as amended, or any successor to it.

Biodiversity assets


23.13 Geodiversity refers to the range of rocks, minerals, fossils, soils and landforms in an area. Salford has one site identified as meriting designation for its geological interest, located within Clifton Country Park. Other parts of the River Irwell valley are also of potential geological significance but none have been designated at present. Apart from the Irwell Valley and the extensive peat soils of Chat Moss, features of geological value are scarce within the city. The most well-known asset is the former quarry at Worsley Delph which is also a site of very significant heritage interest. It will be important to provide appropriate protection for such features, both in terms of their inherent geological value and to maintain their contribution to local character and identity. It will also be important to have regard to the requirements of Policy GB2 in respect of the sustainable use of soils.

Policy BG3 Geodiversity

Development that would have a significant adverse impact on the value of any feature of geodiversity interest will not be permitted.

Regionally Important Geological Sites shown on the Policies Map

River Irwell, Clifton Country Park (BG3/1).


23.14 The main indicators that will be used to monitor this chapter are:

Indicator Baseline position Target
Area of the Biodiversity Heartland being restored to lowland raised bog or a complementary wetland habitat 174 hectares [5] 686 hectares by 2037 (target to be confirmed)
Area of land designated as a Site of Biological Importance  511 hectares [6] Net increase (2019-2037)
Area of land in positive nature conservation management 410 hectares Of which 175ha is within an SBI [7] Significant increase (2019-2037)


[1] Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2018) A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment

[2] Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2011) Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services, p.4

[3] UK National Ecosystem Assessment (2011) The UK National Ecosystem Assessment: Synthesis of the Key Findings

[4] Currently Beta Biodiversity Metric 2.0 (published July 2019)

[5] Unpublished work by Salford City Council

[6] Designations under policy BG2 SLP: DMP Policies Map (based on 2017 surveys)

[7] Unpublished work by Salford City Council, incorporating evidence from 2018 Single Data List Indicator 160 return to Defra

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