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The prevention of WNb violation and speed up of sustainable homes by SMP

By September 30, 2023 March 26th, 2024 No Comments

The ruling by the State Council is clear; companies and homeowners who want to insulate a household’s cavity walls of must first carefully investigate whether they contain protected species or not, such as bats. This ruling could have far-reaching consequences for insulation plans and dealing with the Nature Conservation Act (WNb).

The Problem

The WNb is often (unwittingly) violated when insulating and (re)constructing buildings. Protected bats often live in the cavity walls, where insulation material must be inserted. House sparrows or swifts also tend to live in and around the house, which are also protected. Disturbing their habitat is prohibited under the WNb. Insulating or (re)building in compliance with this act is only allowed after a legally required ecological study. The cost of this is often being disproportionate to the insulation or remodelling itself, and is usually maintained by homeowners themselves. Additionally, an ecological study up to the moment of renovation or insulation is a lengthy process; easily taking up to a year, particularly if an ecologist has the time at all. This delays the preservation of homes, which is a problem, as we want to take speedy measures to save energy and combat climate change as soon as possible.

The Solution

The province of Utrecht uses a method that enables both compliance with the WNb and ensures that the isolation plans can go ahead. A municipality can have a Species Management Plan drawn up by an ecological research agency, mapping out for an entire area where protected populations are located and how to deal with them. Based on a municipality’s Species Management Plan (SMP), the province can issue an exemption for the Nature Conservation Act. In this way, species at risk are protected, the law is not violated and insulation and renovation plans can go ahead. The creation of an SMP can take up to two years. In the meantime, the province of Utrecht also provides conditional opportunities for insulation and renovation through a so-called pre-SMP.

The Role of Nature^Squared

Starting in 2019, Nature^Squared is aiding the province of Utrecht roll out Species Management Plans. Initially, we were involved as a kickstarter for nature-inclusive building. Here, we set up several collaborative relationships with municipalities, housing corporations, environmental services and construction parties to translate the ambition of the province into concrete actions. We also assisted in a comms project to increase support for the Nature Conservation Act by making the value of this law and its instruments clear to stakeholders. We are currently helping the province of Utrecht anchor SMPs within the Utrecht municipalities. We are mapping the ideal SMP process for municipalities, organising knowledge sessions with initiators from the municipalities and providing knowledge for both municipalities and the province. Due to our focus on the value of nature and its conservation, we take this subject beyond just the legal context.

Could you use help around the rollout of Species Management Plans? Then contact Tom Meijer (06-19301182;