If you are looking to develop a piece of land the planners will often request submission of an ecological appraisal or habitat survey. This commonly comes in the form of an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey or Preliminary Ecological Appraisal. These surveys determine the value of the habitats on site and look for signs of use by protected species, or assess the potential of the site to support protected species. They involve the undertaking of a site walkover and a desktop survey.
Cornwall Council refer to the Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning which has released a new pre-planning tool referred to as the Wildlife Assessment Check. This free online tool is designed to help householders and smaller developers who are making applications for planning permission, listed buildings consent and permitted developments.
It allows you to check whether your proposed site and works are likely to require expert ecological advice before making an application. It aims to smooth out the planning application process by encouraging applicants to address potential ecological impacts early on. It thereby reduces unnecessary delays and costs. https://www.biodiversityinplanning.org/wildlife-assessment-check/
When planning work which has the potential to impact the parts of buildings used by bats or nesting birds- most commonly the roof spaces and eaves of a building- it is advisable to have an initial Bat, Barn Owl and Nesting Bird survey undertaken (BBONB).
This type of survey is frequently required by the planning authorities to inform their planning decisions for extensions, roof maintenance, demolition works and work that may impact the roof or external structures of occupied or unoccupied buildings and agricultural barns.
This type of survey can be undertaken at any time of year and involves a careful inspection of the building, both internally and externally, looking for signs of use by bats and for features with potential for use and includes an assessment for nesting birds, including Barn Owls.
You can use the Wildlife Assessment Check on the Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning website to also see whether you may need this survey https://www.biodiversityinplanning.org/wildlife-assessment-check/
A minimum 10% net gain in the biodiversity value of a site post-development is a requirement of the new Environmental Bill which is currently making its way through parliament, with some planning authorities already having adopted it, including Cornwall Council.
This means all domestic developments of 10 or more units or commercial developments over 1 hectare are required to evidence at least a 10% biodiversity net gain post construction from the preconstruction baseline.
This involves calculating a baseline score from the habitat areas mapped during a PEA or phase 1 habitat survey and then calculating the post construction biodiversity score based on the proposed scheme. Identifying and attempting to retain the higher value habitats means less work to achieve the 10% net gain. It is best to start using the metric as early in the planning process as possible.
Further details on Cornwall Councils approach can be found on their website:
If evidence is found of the use of a building by roosting bats or features with the potential to be used by roosting bats are identified during a Bat, Barn Owl and Nesting Bird survey, it is likely further survey work will need to be undertaken.
This usually involves carrying out evening emergence/dawn re-entry surveys which involve the positioning of surveyors around the building being surveyed, from just before sunset/sunrise until 1 to 2 hours afterwards/before to watch for emerging/re-entering bats. Theses surveys aim to determine if bats are roosting in the building, and if so, the species, the status of the roost, the number of individuals, the roosting sites and access points.
This information is then be used to assess the potential impacts, if and how they can be avoided, what mitigation is needed and if a Bat Mitigation Licence will be needed to cover the works.
Bats traditionally use features in large mature trees to roost in. These roosts can be impacted by the construction of buildings or by introducing artificial light in the vicinity of the tree or if the tree is to be completely removed. If trees are at risk of being impacted by a development a roost assessment may be needed either to support a planning application or prior to any works occurring.
Tree roost assessments are best conducted in the winter when the trees are without their leaves and involves identifying and assessing features on the tree that have the potential to support roosting bats.
Where development of an area of land could result in the degradation or loss of bat foraging habitat which could adversely impact bats, further survey work is likely to be required to establish the level of use of the site, the species present and the likely impacts. This information can then be used to inform mitigation to safeguard important flight lines or areas of habitat.
The need for this type of survey is usually identified during a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal and consists of a set of three or more (dependent on the value of the site) walked activity transects, walked at dusk/dawn, paired with the deployment of a static bat detector.
If works to a building, in which bats have been found to roost cannot be undertaken without negatively impacting the bats it is likely that a Bat Mitigation Development Licence will need to be obtained from Natural England before the works can proceed lawfully.
This will involve timing the works to be carried out when bats are least vulnerable to disturbance, carrying out the works carefully to ensure bats are not harmed and installing mitigation to allow the bats to continue living onsite, ideally using the same roosting sites.
We have vast experience designing mitigation, obtaining Bat Mitigation Development Licences, and supporting clients and contractors through the process and with its implementation.
Simon has successfully obtained more than 100 Full Bat Mitigation Development Licences for a wide range of bat species, including rare species, and Simon is a registered Consultant on Annexes B, C and D of the simplified Bat Mitigation Class Licence for works affecting small numbers of common species of bat.
Bats live incredibly secretive lives, largely active at night and around Dusk and Dawn which makes them difficult to survey. We use a range of survey methods and techniques to ensure we gather accurate and meaningful data on which to base our report and recommendations.
These survey methods include the use of thermal imaging devices, infra red cameras, a variety of hand held bat call detecting equipment, remote detectors (the recordings from which are then analyzed using specialist software) and where needed trapping techniques.
To read and see more about these survey techniques and methods and to see videos of these pieces of equipment in use please follow the link below.
If you are unsure whether you need a survey please feel free to contact us. Or, if you would prefer, please follow the above link to the CIEEM website for free advice on what to expect from your survey and what may happen as a result of instructing a bat survey on your property or for your project.
Reptiles make use of a variety of habitats including banks, log piles, watercourses and grasslands. If a site you are developing has the potential to support reptiles, it will be highlighted in the Preliminary Ecological Appraisal and further survey work in the form of Reptile Refugia surveys will often be recommended. These surveys will establish the species present, the most valued areas of habitat and the size and importance of any populations. This survey work aims to identify appropriate avoidance measures, necessary mitigation or the need for translocation.
All British reptiles are protected from intentional killing, injuring and sale under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).
Otters are semi-aquatic mammals which usually live close to watercourses in holes known as holts or above ground laying up sites called couches. They feed on fish, small mammals and small birds and are associated primarily with rivers, streams, ponds, lakes and the immediately adjacent habitats.
If your development is close to any of these water features and they could be impacted, it is possible an Otter survey will be required. This involves walking along the section of watercourse or waterbody to be affected and carefully looking for signs of use by Otters and for holts and couches. Otters are a European Protected Species.
Badgers are nocturnal mammals which live in complex underground tunnel systems called setts. They eat earthworms, small mammals, eggs, fruit, berries and nuts.
If your development is close to a Badger sett that would be impacted by the proposed development, it is likely a Badger survey will be required. This involves carefully mapping the sett entrances and measuring the proximity of the different setts (Main sett, Annex sett, Subsidiary sett or Outlying sett) to the development. This does also sometimes involve the use of camera traps to establish the regularity of use. Badgers are protected by domestic legislation.
All breeding birds and their nests are protected by Law during the active nesting season (March to August inclusive), with certain species covered under additional protection.
If you are developing or impacting land which has a high potential to support nesting birds then a breeding bird survey may be necessary. These surveys aim to identify which species are breeding on site and the location of the nests and to assess the populations. This information is then used to design avoidance or mitigation measures.
Breeding bird surveys can help avoid delays during the development phases by identifying key nesting areas which need to be avoided during the nesting season. If nesting birds are found during development work within the nesting season they must be protected and left alone, and the work should be moved to other areas until the chicks have fledged and left the nest
Dormice are nocturnal arboreal mammals which live mostly in woodlands and hedgerows. They eat hazelnuts, berries and insects and build distinctive nests out of grass and leaves and hibernate in the winter in nests on the ground.
If a proposed development is located close to known or potential Dormouse habitat and Dormice will potentially be impacted, further survey works may be required. This involves installing Dormouse nest tubes into suitable habitats over many months and checking them regularly for signs of use to achieve the correct survey score. Another survey technique is to search the ground beneath hazel stands looking for hazelnuts opened by Dormice. Dormice are a European Protected Species.
Watching briefs are an important tool to ensure that protected species present on site, either at the commencement of works or further into a project, are not harmed, are protected and if needed can be carefully relocated out of harms way. They can include providing site inductions to contactors, supervising vegetation clearance or turf stripping or in the case of an Ecological Clerk of Works providing more wide ranging onsite ecological advice on the avoidance of impacts during construction.
Identifying the need for a watching brief usually forms part of the recommendations of the Preliminary Ecological Appraisal. For low risk developments or certain species groups, a watching brief can be recommended without the need for further survey work (e.g. the clearance of vegetation during the nesting bird season where it is unavoidable) or as part of the mitigation recommended as part of further survey works where the presence of a protected species has been confirmed (e.g. reptile translocations and reasonable avoidance measure). Watching brief's can also require site-specific mitigation licences to be obtained from Natural England where European Protected Species are going to be impacted, e.g. Dormice.
Our ecologists are all CSCS certified to ensure we can safely conduct watching briefs. Site watching briefs are regularly used for the below species groups:
When work commences that will impact a building which has been confirmed to be used by roosting bats, following on from further bat survey work, a watching brief is usually required for the careful removal of any features found to be used by roosting bats. This can include a detailed inspection of the interior of the building, followed by the supervision of the contractors by a suitably experienced and licenced ecologist, while they carefully strip the roof coverings, remove the fascias, enclose the interiors, etc. A watching brief usually follows a Bat Mitigation Licence having been obtained prior to the works commencing.
Watching briefs on buildings and careful internal inspection of structures can also be required if buildings are to be demolished or works undertaken during nesting bird season, where unavoidable, to assess if the works can proceed.
If you would rather contact us directly, please use the contact details below:
Our usual office hours are Mon - Fri, 09:00 - 17:00, although this may differ during the survey season.
Telephone no.: 01326 761092
Post: Admiralty House, 2 Bank Place, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 4AT