Development Management

Development Management

NRW’s duties and responsibilities in responding to planning application consultations are set out in various legislation and national planning policies.

The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Wales) Order 2012 identifies areas where planning authorities must consult us before determining a planning application. When consulted, we have a statutory duty to provide a substantive response within prescribed deadlines.

Our approach 

We support sustainable development in Wales by working with planning authorities, developers and other partners to minimise the harmful environmental effects from development. We also promote opportunities to enhance the natural environment to deliver environmental, social and economic benefits.

We do this by actively seeking early engagement with developers and authorities so that environmental interest are considered at the earliest opportunity, and informs the location layout and design of a proposed development.

When consulted, we adopt a solutions-based approach in our engagement with developers and authorities. Wherever possible, we will work with applicants to find solutions that minimise adverse effects on the environment, and seek opportunities to enhance environmental assets.

NRW is currently in the process of developing a discretionary pre-application service, which will provide developers with access to a free initial opinion on their development, as well as additional advice which will be available for a fee. NRW will start rolling out this service from April 2017 onwards

Advice for planners and developers

We will be developing guidance and good practice on how to assess and minimise environmental impacts. Please follow the relevant links if one or more of the following is relevant to your scheme:

Development within an area which is at risk of flooding

If you are thinking about developing in an area shown to be at risk of flooding on the Welsh Government’s Development Advice Map, you will need to demonstrate that the consequences of developing in a flood risk area can be managed in line with current national planning policy and in particular Technical Advice Note 15: Development and Flood Risk (TAN15). It is often necessary for you, or a consultant you employ, to prepare a flood consequences assessment (FCA) in order to show that the flood risk to your development and / or any increased flooding elsewhere as a result of your development can be managed or mitigated.

Our role is to provide technical advice on the level and acceptability of flood risk, from rivers and/or the sea, both to and from a proposed development.

Our advice on flood risk will be primarily based on existing information we may hold and the contents of your FCA submitted in support of your planning application. To help you, or your consultant, prepare your FCA, we have developed a Good Practice Guide, which contains technical advice and recommendations.

Works within a Site of Special Scientific interest (SSSI)

SSSIs are notified by NRW to protect the special features of the site. All public bodies should take reasonable steps to further the conservation and enhancement of the features for which a SSSI is of special interest when exercising their functions. For planning authorities, this applies when preparing development plans, and when determining planning applications.

If you own or manage land within a SSSI area, you must notify us of operations that have a potential to damage the special interest. See guidance for SSSI land owners or occupiers.

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.


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.

Forestry development

If you are planning to fell trees on your land or as part of development, you will need to contact us for a tree felling licence.

We also have guidance on creating new woodland.