All planning authorities in Somerset work in partnership with SERC to ensure they are using the best possible data with which to base their decisions on.
SERC has designed an IT program called BioPlan which maximises the usefulness of data for decision-making in the planning process. This automated search tool is used by District Councils for screening planning applications. In 2016/17 over 5,000 planning applications were screened using this method.
The system uses a combination of rules when looking at the type of planning application, the words used to describe it and the proximity of known wildlife. When a planning application meets the criteria, data is gathered and reported back the local authority for further consideration.