Get environmental advice on neighbourhood plans, development orders and community right to build orders

Find out which environmental agencies you need to consult about your neighbourhood plan, neighbourhood development order or CRTBO.

This guide is for neighbourhood planning bodies which are:

  • town and parish councils
  • community organisations
  • neighbourhood forums

You must consult Natural England and the Environment Agency about:

  • any plans or orders that may affect their environmental interests
  • strategic environmental assessments for neighbourhood plans
  • neighbourhood development orders (NDOs) and community right to build orders (CRTBOs) in certain circumstances

Check with your local planning authority (LPA) if you’re unsure which agency to consult.

You must provide enough information about your neighbourhood plan or development order for environmental agencies to comment. You must include any impacts the plan or order may have on the environment.

Read the neighbourhood planning guidance for advice on neighbourhood plans and the independent examination process.

Consult Natural England

You need to consult Natural England if you’re planning certain types of development.

Neighbourhood plans

You should consult Natural England if your plan is in or likely to affect:

You can also consult Natural England if your plan could create:

  • other environmental issues such as harm to protected species
  • environmental opportunities such as green infrastructure


You must consult Natural England if the order:

  • is in or likely to affect an SSSI - check the impact risk zone around an SSSI to help you assess potential effects that the order may have on the site
  • will involve the loss of more than 20 hectares of the best and most versatile agricultural land, unless the site is included in policies or proposals in a local or neighbourhood plan - find the agricultural land classifications on the Magic map and zoom in on the map
  • needs an environmental impact assessment

Protected sites and areas and protected species

Check if your proposal is on a protected site or in a protected area by using the Magic map and zoom in on the map

Read Natural England’s other guidance about:

Contact Natural England

Email or write to:

Natural England consultation service
Hornbeam House
Electra Way
Crewe Business Park

Consult the Environment Agency

Consult the Environment Agency if the plan or order includes:

  • land in flood zones 2 and 3
  • land in flood zone 1 with critical drainage problems - ask your LPA
  • a development that handles, produces, uses or stores hazardous substances within the area at risk if a major accident happened nearby - find out about developing near hazardous sites
  • waterbodies identified in river basin management plans
  • main rivers, groundwater and water quality
  • the area within 20m of the top of the bank of a main river
  • storage, transfer or treatment of waste products or refuse
  • cemeteries or cemetery extensions
  • contaminated land or could cause land to become contaminated
  • areas identified in local plans as coastal change management areas, to be affected by coastal erosion
  • intensive pig, poultry or dairy units

Check local data and maps to find out if there are environmental risks in your area, such as local flooding. These may affect your plan or order.

The Environment Agency provides environmental data such as flood risk modelling, which you may need for complex issues raised by your plan or order. You may need to pay for some data.

Contact the Environment Agency

Email or write to:

Environment Agency
PO Box 544
S60 1BY

What you’ll get back

You should allow at least 6 weeks to receive a response from Natural England or the Environment Agency.

The written response you receive from Natural England or the Environment Agency will depend on the:

  • level of risk the proposal has on the environment, for example you’ll get a standardised response for a low risk proposal
  • stage your plan or order has reached, for example you’ll get more advice if you’ve sent in a completed draft
  • environmental opportunities that could be achieved such as ‘green infrastructure’ and biodiversity improvements of the site and surrounding area

Consult the Marine Management Organisation

Consult the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) if your plan or order is on the coast and involves slipways, jetties and dredging.

Read about permits, consents and licences you might need for coastal developments.

Published 29 March 2015
Last updated 14 November 2016 + show all updates
  1. Clarified guidance on: * when you need to consult environmental agencies * how to check if your proposal affects protected sites or species or other environmental risks * how long it will take to get a response * what to expect from the response

  2. First published.