Spring is definitely in the air, in between the endless rain showers, and that means we are entering the main spring/summer survey season; therefore, it seems an opportune time to follow on from our last post – which focused on Preliminary Ecological Appraisal – with a closer look at protected species surveys and reports.

A number of species are protected by legislation and policy in the UK. These typically comprise species that have suffered significant population declines, which has resulted in concerns about their conservation status. There are a number of mechanisms in place that require planning authorities to consider the presence of legally protected/notable species when making a decision on a planning application.

Information gathering

The potential for protected/notable species to be present on a site, is typically identified during the Preliminary Ecological Appraisal stage. Where the potential for protected or notable species has been recorded, the next step is to carry out surveys that focus on the species/species group, in order to identify their likely presence or absence on the site.

Species/species groups that are commonly surveyed include: bats, reptiles, birds, dormice, otter, water vole, badger, invertebrates and flora. The type of survey undertaken and the methodology used, depends on a number of factors, such as the features that have been identified and the development proposals.

It is important that an appropriately experienced/licensed ecologist(s) undertakes the survey to ensure that it is carried out in a robust manner at an appropriate time of year – at The Ecology Co-op, we are staffed by fully-trained ecologists who are licensed to undertake protected species work where needed, so your project is in safe hands right from the start.

Depending on the species, surveys may need to be undertaken in the evening and early morning, as well as during the daytime – bats, for example, emerge from their roost sites within an hour or two of dusk, and can be seen returning to roost sites in the run-up to dawn.

As well as the surveys themselves, it may also be necessary to contact local interest groups and/or local biodiversity record centres to gather more information about the status of certain species within the local area.

Interpretation of results

Once the surveys have been completed, the data that has been collected is then recorded and interpreted in the form of a report. As well as presenting the results, the report is used to consider the results in the context of the proposed development. Factors such as avoidance of significant adverse effects, the need for mitigation and compensation, and opportunities for enhancement and net gain will be discussed in the report.

If a license is necessary in order to proceed with proposed development plans, this will also be considered at this time. The license application itself is typically undertaken once planning permission has been granted.

The protected species report(s) feeds into an Ecological Impact Assessment/Habitat Regulations Assessment, which in turn is submitted to a planning authority to accompany a planning application.

The Ecology Co-op is able to advise on protected/notable species and their relevance to your site proposals at any stage in the development process, so please do get in touch – we’re here to help.