There is an exclusion zone of 400m for net increases in dwellings around Ashdown Forest in east Sussex, which is designated as a special protection zone and special area of conservation because of its value as habitat for rare bird species including the nightjar and Dartford warbler. Accordingly, it can be difficult to achieve consent for housing within the exclusion zone, and other such areas elsewhere, due to concerns about disturbance by dog walkers and predation by cats. Has anyone ever found out how far cats actually prowl, however? They have:-
In a recent appeal against the refusal of permission for a single dwelling near the Ashdown Forest (DCS Number 400-034-531) the appellants pointed out that the site was towards the outer edge of the 400m exclusion zone. Moreover, they submitted a study published in the Journal of Urban Ecology that found that the median maximum distance reached from home by cats was 141m in a suburban location and 148m in a peri-urban location, with a maximum range of 278m. The inspector acknowledged that, while this did not guarantee the safety of ground nesting birds, it did offer evidence that a cat associated with the proposed development was unlikely to give rise to predation.
Nonetheless, the inspector concluded that it was likely that the development would give rise to additional recreational pressure on the Ashdown Forest special protection area and special area of conservation, which would have an adverse effect on their ecological value.
Section 4.169 of DCP Online concerns nearby ecological areas.