Several terminologies are used by the relevant authorities when requesting ecological information to be submitted in conjunction with a planning (or similar) application. These are variously known as Preliminary Ecological Assessment (PEA), Extended Phase 1 habitat survey, Ecological Scoping Surveys, Ecological Audits, Ecological Appraisal and Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA). Essentially a planning application can only be determined if the report can adequately identify impacts and provide suitable mitigation solutions to offset these impacts; therefore, all reports should conform to the standards of Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA).
As such we would expect to include the following during an initial site survey:
- A search for previous biological data relating to species and conservation sites within relevant proximity to the site
- A habitat survey (with a Hedgerow Regulations Assessment of hedgerows if required)
- A search for protected and priority species or the potential for these
- An overall evaluation of the species and habitats present within the site or its area of influence
- An assessment of any impacts that might have a significant detrimental or positive effect on the biodiversity of the site and its area of influence
- Mitigation measures (where required)
- Further surveys (where required)
- Enhancement measures
As part of the protected species survey we would expect to include the following during an initial site survey:
- Assess pools in the surrounds for their potential to support great crested newt following the Habitat Suitability Index protocol (HSI)
- Assess trees on or close to the site for bat roost potential.
- Search water courses for evidence of or potential for otter, water vole and white-clawed crayfish.
- Carry out thorough external and internal daytime surveys of trees, buildings and other structures (where the development will involve the demolition or modification of buildings/structures or the felling and looping of trees) for evidence (or not) of bats.
- Although this level of survey may not always be able to rule out the presence or not of some species, it can often be sufficient e.g. a comprehensive survey of buildings, if negative for bats, can avoid the need to undertake further expensive bat activity surveys (at dusk and dawn).
Detailed species surveys
Where initial visits cannot provide sufficient information on all species, more detailed surveys will be required to inform the Ecological Assessment or Ecological Impact Assessment before it can be submitted to planning (or similar), see protected species surveys page.
Ecological Impact Assessment
We also carry out Ecological Impact Assessments for larger or more sensitive developments for input into Environmental Impact Assessment.
We carry out surveys of hedgerows in order to determine their ‘importance’ as set out in the Hedgerow Regulations and can advise on the translocation of valuable hedgerows. With our botanical experience we are able to survey for much of the year. We also carry out assessments of hedgerows for their use by bats and other protected or priority species.