Habitat mitigation

The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads are special places for visitors and wildlife, and the area is also very rich in terms of habitats and biodiversity.

The area has several designations which reflect its beauty and importance locally, nationally and internationally. Some of these designations are commonly talked about, such as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Heritage Coast, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local and National Nature Reserves (LNR and NNR). Some designations are not as well-known but are very important for wildlife (biodiversity). Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) as well as Ramsar Sites (wetlands) are vital for birds during migration and breeding, for feeding, roosting and nesting. These designations protect the birds directly as well as their habitats, as they provide important food, vegetation and landscapes for their lifecycles.

People visiting these sites can affect the habitats and species. For example, by trampling or dogs scaring birds or seals. These kinds of effects are classed as recreational impacts. Further housing or tourist accommodation is likely to result in significant effects on these sites.

Suffolk Coast RAMS and Norfolk RAMS

The Suffolk Coast Recreation Disturbance Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy (RAMS) and the Norfolk Recreation Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy (RAMS) aim to reduce the impact of increased levels of recreational use on Habitat Sites (also often called European Sites), due to new residential development in Norfolk and the Suffolk Coast area, and to provide a simple, coordinated way for developers to deliver mitigation for their developments.

The RAMS project allows for a strategic approach to mitigating the in-combination effects of development on these designated areas and allows mitigation to be delivered across the project area.

Taking a coordinated approach to mitigation has benefits and efficiencies compared to project by project mitigation packages. The RAMS partnership approach has support from Natural England.

Increased recreation without mitigation would result in the significant features of the sites being degraded, or lost, and these internationally important areas losing their birds and habitat, (and therefore their designations), and Norfolk and the Suffolk Coast losing significant important areas for birds, plants and wildlife generally.

Any new residential development within the Zone of Influence will be required to mitigate the effects of the development and show how this will be achieved prior to approval of planning permission. In smaller development this is most efficiently achieved through payment of the RAMS contribution only.

Where a financial contribution towards RAMS is required, it can be paid upfront or via a legal agreement that will secure payment before, or upon commencement of the development. Upfront payments are refundable in the event planning permission is refused, an appeal is dismissed, or the development is not implemented.

For sites comprising of more than 50 dwellings and in more sensitive locations, a bespoke approach including payment of RAMS and demonstration of on-site/off-site mitigation measures may be required.

Suffolk RAMS – specific details

The Zone of Influence (ZOI) is the area where increased residential development will result in likely significant effects. As set out in the strategy, evidence shows that there is a 13 km Zone of Influence (ZOI) around the relevant Habitat Sites in the Suffolk Coast area (this includes East Suffolk, Ipswich Borough and Babergh and Mid Suffolk Council areas).

This Suffolk Coast RAMS Habitat Regulation Assessment (HRA) Record provides guidance, agreed with Natural England. It will be used when intending to consent relevant development and in undertaking its Appropriate Assessment.

As of 19 April 2024, the RAMS contribution is set at £374.29 per dwelling within Zone B. The RAMS contribution per dwelling is index linked to the BCIS (Building Cost Information Service) index with a base date of May 2019 (the date of adoption of the Strategy). Each year thereafter the contribution rate will be adjusted on the 6th April, to align with the start of the financial year, and the new rate will be published on this web page. The contribution rate to be paid becomes fixed on the date the payment is made.

You can pay your contribution upfront quickly and easily by using our online Recreational Avoidance Mitigation Contribution (RAMS) upfront payment form (the form will require you to have or create, a My East Suffolk account).

If you (or your clients) are unable to make payment online via the form, a pdf version of the upfront payment form or template legal agreements can be supplied on request by contacting East Suffolk Council's Infrastructure Team.

Norfolk RAMS – specific details

Slightly different to the Suffolk Coast RAMS, the Norfolk RAMS covers all of Norfolk and there is only one tariff which is currently £201.84 (2024).

This Norfolk RAMS Habitat Regulation Assessment (HRA) Record (DOC) provides guidance, agreed with Natural England. It will be used when intending to consent relevant development and in undertaking its Appropriate Assessment.

The Norfolk RAMS payment can be made to the Broads Authority using BACS (or cheque, although this is not the preferred method of payment).

Download the RAMS upfront payment form for the Norfolk RAMS scheme (DOC).

Reporting on RAMS

Any payments of the tariff will be reported in the Infrastructure Funding Statement.