The conduit between biodiversity and development. ....................................................................................Contact Paul Diamond. Email:- paul@ecologicalsurveysdorset.co.uk / Tel: 07736 458609 / 01503 240769

Surveys

Are you looking for a phase 1 survey to accompany a planning application or simply to check the potential viability of a development site? The answer to this may influence the type of survey required.

Initial Ecological Scoping / Feasibility Appraisal

An initial scoping / feasibility appraisal is intended to provide a brief overview of a site. It will highlight ecological aspects or considerations that might lead to financial implications that may potentially jeopardise the feasibility of the project. This type of appraisal lacks the depth of a full survey, but an initial scoping survey may save considerable sums of money and time in the future. Please feel free to discuss any potential projects you have under consideration.

Phase 1 Habitat Surveys / Ecological Appraisals

Phase 1 Habitat Surveys are now more commonly known as 'Ecological Appraisals' or 'Ecological Surveys' or perhaps even Extended Phase 1 Habitat Surveys. Whatever the terminology used, these surveys and reports are invariably associated with a planning application, or for legal compliance.

Ecological Surveys Ltd are able to undertake Ecological Appraisals for such purposes. Staff are members of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and are bound by CIEEM's professional code of conduct.

Whilst ecological considerations might appear to put constraints on development, we do not believe they have to be diametrically opposed. We strive to help create a situation where development and wildlife conservation do not conflict. We aim to achieve this in a number of ways:

  • Your survey report from Ecological Surveys Ltd will make you fully aware of relevant wildlife legislation and planning policy that might impact upon your planning application
  • Where applicable, mitigation or compensation strategies are recommended within the report that will ensure no loss of habitat value. This helps reassure planning officers that your proposals will not impact upon the biodiversity value of the site.
  • We also consider and where practical, suggest ways to actually add biodiversity value and enhance the existing habitat for wildlife.
  • There maybe occasions when the Ecological Survey highlights concerns which cannot be mitigated for on site and which call for compensation measures.
  • A survey may bring to attention over riding ecological concerns or issues for which neither mitigation or compensation can fully address and consequently save you significant sums of money on progressing a project that is unlikely to succeed.

What is included within an Ecological Appraisal?

The fundamental purpose of the survey is to ascertain whether development will impact upon the habitat and biodiversity value of the site. If the proposals do have potential impacts, mitigation strategies must be included as part of the planning proposal. Failure to mitigate / compensate when required, can have detrimental effects on your planning application. Ecological Surveys Ltd's ‘Ecological appraisals’ focus on the following:

  • Mapping of broad habitats subdivided as appropriate to highlight significant habitat variations on site.
  • Identification of not only dominant plant species but as many native species as can be observed during the survey.
  • Hedgerow Assessment to check for species rich hedgerows, considered "important" under the Hedgerow Regulations.
  • Presence of Protected Species on site.
  • Protected Species Habitat Assessment.
  • Biodiversity Action Plan Species Habitat Assessment.
  • Bat Survey of any trees and buildings to be affected.
  • Badger Sett and Signs Survey.
  • Japanese Knotweed and other invasive species Survey.
  • Invertebrate Habitat Assessment.

What other ecological surveys / research is likely to be required?

Desk studies

Depending on the site location and planned development, various desk studies are normally undertaken. For instance the site is not considered in isolation, but within its context and its proximity to noted / protected sites nearby. Potential impacts to local protected sites, are considered and noted in the report. If the proposed development site is of ecological value and protected species are indicated or suspected, further desk study is normally undertaken to check for local records of significant species occuring in close proximity.

Phase 2 (Protected Species Surveys)

Depending on the observations and finding of the initial Ecological Appraisal, further surveys maybe unnecessary. However, specialist surveys (phase 2) maybe required if the presence of protected species is indicated or suspected on site. These additional surveys are focused on establishing the presence or likely absence of a protected species/assemblage, and/or the size of its local population. Failure to conducted a recommended phase 2 survey will almost certainly result in a planning application being rejected and could potentially lead to a statutory offence being committed during site development. 

The suspected or indicated presence of the following species, will require additional surveys to be conducted:

· Bats · Badger  · Birds · Rare Botanical Species · Dormouse · Great Crested Newt · Reptiles · Water vole · Protected Invertebrates · Otter · White Clawed Crayfish · Natterjack Toad and depending on location others too.

If following an Ecological Appraisal, it becomes apparent that additional protected species surveys are required, it must be understood that in order to conform to Natural England guidelines, surveys must be conducted at specific times of year (See below for survey calendar). If you suspect the presence of any of these protected species on site, we suggest you contact us immediately to discuss your site and requirements in more detail. Failure to do so may mean missing the seasonal window - and you could have to wait for another year or more!

What are the implication if protected species are found on site?

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out national planning policy. It is concerned with minimising impacts on biodiversity and indeed looks to provide net biodiversity gains where possible. The NPPF places an obligation on local authorities to promote the preservation, restoration and recreation of priority habitats, ecological networks and the protection and recovery of priority species. Consequently, the presence of protected species is a material consideration. Government guidance states that Local Planning Authorities should have all the survey and mitigation information before they decide a planning application – Therefore, additional surveys are rarely made a condition of planning consent  and are almost universally required before the planning application is decided.

Often, mitigation measures such as maintaining hedgerow connectivity or installing recommended lighting systems to limit the impacts on bats, are sufficient to gain planning permission. Sometimes, however, more detailed mitigation or compensation strategies are required. Sometimes, if it is unavoidable, species may have to be caught and translocated to other areas. These measures may take time to enact and as previously noted, the period in which these actions can be undertaken is limited. Please remember this and allow ample time. Ecological Surveys Ltd are able to assist with mitigation measures.

Best advice has to be to plan early and allow sufficient time for surveys to be completed.

What happens after planning permission is granted?

Once planning has been granted, we can help implement the mitigation / compensation measures. We are able to assist in a wide variety of ways from catching and translocating species to erecting bat / bird boxes and advising on and planting hedgerows and much more besides. Please ask for details.

European protected species survey calendar.

For more information click on the species name. Ecological Surveys Ltd would be please to tender for your project. Please contact us with details of the project, its location and any deadlines that might be applicable. Charges for Ecological Appraisals are guaranteed and will be confirmed and agreed at the outset. Costs pertaining to other forms of survey or translocations will be based on an agreed hourly rate plus incurred expenses, an estimate will be given as a guide to the overall cost.

Species

Survey window

Basic facts

Dormice

May to October

Dormice are orangey brown with a white belly and a furry tail. They are nocturnal and live in woodland and hedges. The presence of hazel is not essential for dormice.

Bats

Roost surveys May to September

Bats are found in rural and urban areas and may use different roosting places for roosting, breeding and hibernating.

Reptiles

April to September

<   Captured slow worms ready for translocation to a new site

There are six native species of reptile in the UK: common lizards, sand lizards, slow-worms, adders, grass snakes and smooth snakes.

Great crested newts

Pond surveys March to June

All newts are amphibians and great-crested newts have bright orangey yellow bellies with black spots

Breeding birds

March to July inclusive

Birds, including rare species, may be found breeding on or near construction sites. Ideally work should commence outside the breeding season. If this is not possible, experienced ecologists should inspect potential nesting sites and until approval has been received, work should not commence in the immediate area.

Otters

All year

Otters live along watercourses and occur in both rural and urban areas. Amongst other places they have been recorded in Exeter and Winchester city centers. Otters like badgers are part of the weasels (Mustelidae) family.

Water voles

White clawed crayfish

March to October

Water voles have chestnut brown fur, a round face and a short furry tail. They are found in slow-flowing rivers, ditches, dykes and around lakes and ponds with steep banks and vegetation. Thanks largely to mink predation, they are now very rare almost everywhere and extinct in much of their former range.

Badgers

Spring to Autumn

Badgers are up to a metre long and live in groups in underground setts. They are nocturnal and leave well-worn paths, latrines and scratching posts in their territories

                                                   Do you know the link between the jay and the oak?

It was long believed that squirrels planted acorns for food, if they subsequently forgot a few, this aided the spread of the oak. It is now known that squirrels bite the top of the acorn and this prevents germination. In fact Jays perform this essential role. The loss of the jay would have dire consequences for the oak. Around 300 species of insect feed on oak and a similar number of lichens grow on the tree too, all have reasons to be grateful to the jay. Conversely, Napoleon would have hated the jay had he been aware of the assistance it had provided to Nelson.

We still lack a comprehensive understanding of the interconnectedness of many species. The relationship between the jay and oak is just one example of why protecting biodiversity is so important.

Contact Paul Diamond by email:  paul@ecologicalsurveysdorset.co.uk

or  by telephone, Office: 01503 240769 or Mobile: 07736 458609

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