Pond Conservation Leaflets

Guidance for Planners and Developers

Environmental Assessment

The starting point for any development should be a professional ecological survey of the existing pond, including its surroundings, or the area where a new pond is proposed. This will enable knowledge-based management decisions to be made and a suitable management plan to be prepared. This can avoid unwelcome surprises at a later stage!

Professional surveys can be undertaken at different levels of detail, but things to consider can include:

  • pond position and location
  • site designations (see later)
  • site hydrology/geology
  • wetland and terrestrial flora and fauna (some of which may be protected by law)
  • archaeological/historical interest
  • recreation and access
  • health and safety.

Much of this information may already exist and be reasonably inexpensive to obtain. Advice on surveys can be sought from the Ponds Conservation Trust, English Nature or Local Planning Authorities (see contacts).

Incorporate the existing pond into the design

Where there are existing ponds, create the development around them rather than filling them in. With a little imagination a site can be greatly enhanced by a pond as a focal point, a restful feature to look out on. Your development may provide the opportunity to enhance the existing pond by using your ecological survey as a guide. For example, consider habitat improvement, introduction of appropriate management and the introduction of recreational facilities.



Mitigation should be seen as a last resort and in all cases professional advice should be sought. Be wary of schemes which propose mitigating pond loss by translocating pond plants and animals to new sites as this could introduce alien species to the site. There is little evidence that such schemes work. Infilling is not only an issue because of the loss of individual sites and the wildlife they support; ponds can also provide a stepping stone to other freshwater habitats near by, and their loss can contribute to the isolation of the plant and animal populations.

Creation of new ponds

Design your development so that a new pond can be incorporated to enhance your scheme. A pond design which creates a functioning ecosystem is far more valuable than an ornamental feature. Use your ecological survey to decide the best location for the new pond. Careful positioning can link up an existing network of ponds allowing speedy colonisation of the new pond and greater movement of existing populations. The terrestrial habitat around the pond is an important buffer for the water quality and habitat for foraging animals as well as being a home for many of them.

Consider a Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) for collecting rainfall from roofs and roads to provide storage and treatment via a pond network with a reed bed before discharging to local watercourses, surface water drainage system or soakaway. However, the pond designer needs to bear in mind that a land drainage feature can at times receive surface water runoff which contains a degree of pollution. A useful publication is "Sustainable urban drainage system - an introduction". See further information given later.

Protecting a pond during construction

Protection measures may be required including temporary amphibian transfer, fencing, buffer zones etc. Careful phasing of works and changes to construction methodologies may be required. The final drainage must be connected correctly to prevent pollution of the pond. Remember that the pond is a living entity and there will be many different plants and animals depending on the site at different times of year. So time construction work accordingly.

Ponds and Safety

Ponds can provide an opportunity to learn about water safety and the world around us. Care during design can keep risks to a minimum and should not be seen as an excuse for not including a pond in a development. There is also a need to consider other safety factors when working on ponds such as Weil's disease and deep silt in ponds.

'Destruction of ponds is unsustainable development'

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