Getting you the green light is our goal
For over 15 years, we’ve been providing the UK with the quickest and best-priced ecological surveys. During that time, we’ve travelled the length and breadth of the UK, built on our experience as expert ecologists, and worked with countless planning authorities.
Between our wealth of knowledge, vast experience in ecology and ability to offer a broad range of ecological surveys to meet the specific needs of our clients, we work to ensure that your proposed development project goes ahead and your planning permission application is successful.
Our Expert ecologists
Our team boasts a mix of directly employed ecological surveyors and dependable subcontractors. Through solid, established working relationships, our subcontractors offer us favourable timescales and rates to ensure that you are booked in at the quickest possible opportunity and given a quote that is competitive and manageable.
All of our ecologists have the relevant skills and qualifications, as well as the necessary licences to conduct ecological surveys across the UK. You will also find that our team is friendly, approachable and clear with communicating information, making the process of working with us seamless and enjoyable.
Ecological survey and assessment
Before booking an ecological survey, you may be interested to learn more about how they work. Below, we offer information on several key factors including the best time to book, what a survey involves, the equipment we use, the guidelines we operate within and the cost:
Ecology survey calendar
A major factor in choosing the most suitable opportunity for your ecological survey will be the time of year. Although many ecology surveys can be just as effective at any point in the year, they often have optimal time periods based on the weather and the habitat and behaviour of the animals involved. For example, the optimal time for a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal would preferably be between April and October.
In some cases, time won’t have any influence over when you book an ecology survey. Depending on the habitat and species, it may be a more sensitive factor when it comes to ecology surveys for individual animals. The preliminary roost and tree roost assessments in a bat survey, the habitat suitability index (HSI) of a great crested newt survey, otter surveys and red squirrel surveys, for example, can be conducted at any point in the year.
However, protected species surveys for badgers, birds, crayfishes, dormice and reptiles are more effective in certain seasons. As such, it would be advisable to plan ahead and book your ecological survey early.
Objectives of an ecological survey
During an ecological survey, the ecologist’s primary objective is to highlight any hinderances to the development project caused by local habitats and species.
Additionally, they will assess the nature conservation value of the site and the ecological impact the development could have on biodiversity in the area.
The results of the assessment will then be used to ensure that the development project can go ahead despite the presence of protected species, create ecological mitigation measures to counteract any significant ecological constraints and develop methods of enhancing the level of biodiversity.
Ecological survey methods
As there are different types of ecological survey, the process can be carried out in a number of ways. However, the first step in the site assessment process is traditionally a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA). When conducting a PEA, the ecologist will usually go through the following stages:
Preliminary Ecological Appraisal process
- As part of a desk study, research is carried out on the specific plot of land and data is sourced to find sections that may be legally protected or designated for protected species.
- A geographical information system (GIS) is used to create a printed or interactive map of the area with findings from the desk study included.
- In the second part of the PEA – the Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey – the geologist will physically visit the site.
- While at the site, the geologist will record species of plants and protected species in the area, as well as the likelihood of any that aren’t currently visible.
- After the second part of the survey, the geologist will provide advice on ecological issues they identified and produce effective mitigation measures.
Ecological survey equipment
In any ecological survey, the ecologist will need to use specific types of equipment. Although different items of equipment may be required for certain surveys, there are many items that are universal for all surveys.
General ecology equipment:
- Dropping bags
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Reference books
- Site plans
- Survey sheets
In some cases, however, other types of equipment will be needed – a common occurrence for certain protected species surveys. In the Environmental DNA (eDNA) section of a newt survey, for example, they would need an eDNA kit and waders or wellies. Likewise, if a National Vegetation Classification (NVC) survey is required following an Ecological Impact Assessment, they may need a smartphone to access an ordnance survey map.
Ecological survey report
Following the completion of an ecological survey, the ecologist will compile their findings in what is known as an ecological survey report. By doing this, they can map out the results of the survey in extensive detail and inform their client on key observations, highlight factors that could potentially hinder their development project and provide effective ecological mitigation measures.
What is an ecology report?
An ecology report is an extensive overview of an ecological survey that provides the client with the results from every stage of the assessment. Depending on the type of survey being carried out and the specific needs and circumstances of the development project, the appearance and content of an ecology survey may be different. However, they all offer the same purpose and generally follow a set structure.
Sections of an ecological report
- A title page that includes the type of survey, the details of the client and the ecologist, and information about the date of the report and the plot of land that was assessed.
- A summary that briefly explains the purpose of the report, any key findings and recommendations.
- Acknowledgements of organisations, sub-contractors, volunteers and anyone that helped, provided input or was cited as a reference in the report.
- A clear, numbered table that details the contents of the report.
- An introduction that thoroughly explains the purpose of the survey and any factors the client outlined prior to the assessment.
- An explanation of the methodology including every detail of the survey such as the ecologist who carried it out, when and where it happened, what was done, how it was done and any obstacles that may have arisen.
- The results of the survey including relevant data from the research stage and findings from the assessment. Various methods of displaying information may be used such as drawings, graphs, photographs and tables.
- A detailed assessment of the results with information about potential limitations and the impact of existing legislation and ecological issues.
- A thorough explanation of the most suitable courses of action to remedy any problems identified in the survey.
- A concise conclusion that details how the report met the original purpose of the survey.
- A list of references for any pre-existing information that appeared in the report.
- An appendix that explains certain areas from the report in greater detail.
In terms of what should specifically be outlined in an ecological survey report, the most important factors to include are the presence of biodiversity in the area, details of how disturbance can be avoided, mitigated or compensated and ways in which a successful planning application and the land development project as a whole could increase biodiversity in the area.
Ecology survey guidelines
In order for surveys to be carried out correctly, they must be compliant under the rules put in place by the appropriate regulators. Below, we’ve outlined the guidelines behind some of the surveys we provide:
Guidelines for a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal
For a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal to be carried out correctly, it must be conducted within the guidelines set by the Professional Standards Committee of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM). Under these guidelines, CIEEM ensure that Preliminary Ecological Appraisals are completed to a high standard that is consistent across the board.
Guidelines for an Ecological Impact Survey in the UK and Ireland
As with Preliminary Ecological Appraisals, Ecological Impact Assessments are compliant with the guidelines set by CIEEM. However, instead of solely ensuring high quality and consistency across the UK and Ireland, it also insists on a scientifically rigorous approach, utmost communication between ecologists and transparency over relevant information about the potential ecological effects of land development projects.
Habitat Regulations Assessment guidelines
Unlike a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal and an Ecological Impact Assessment, a Habitat Regulations Assessment isn’t strictly regulated by UK legislation. Instead, it falls under the European Union Habitats Directive – a directive designed to protect specific species of animal and plants. However, UK Habitats Regulations enforce the rules of the EU Habitats Directive in the UK.
Ecological survey cost
The cost of an ecological survey will be based on a variety of factors including the size of the plot of land, the scale of the development project and the ecologist’s travel costs. Another primary factor is the type of survey, with prices for each survey sometimes varying significantly.
How much does an ecological survey cost?
As previously mentioned, the cost of the ecology survey you book may vary depending on your specifications and the type of survey you need. In an effort to help you with budgeting for your survey, we’ve listed the general starting prices of the key ecological surveys below.
Ecological survey prices:
Preliminary Ecological Appraisals – starting at £599
Ecological Impact Assessments – starting at £799
Habitat Regulations Assessments – case specific
Ecological Walkover Surveys – starting at £399
For a more accurate quote or information on another type of ecological survey, it would be advisable to get in touch with our team. Simply call us at 0808 168 9359 or get a quick quote by entering in your details at the top of this page.
Booking an ecology survey
Whether you have been told that you need to book an ecology survey as part of your application to a local planning authority or you simply want a quote for a prospective development project, the process is quick and easy.
All you need to do is fill in the quote form at the top of this page. In our quick quote form, you should provide as much information as possible about the area of land you want us to assess and the type of survey you require. A member of our team will then be in touch with you in a few hours to talk you through your options and give you a quote that is relevant to your needs. You can then ask any questions you may have, secure your booking, and pay for the survey over the phone.
After the booking is confirmed, one of our qualified ecologists will contact you, introduce themselves and arrange a visit to your site. On the day of the ecology survey, they will arrive with identification, appropriate PPE and all of the equipment they will need to carry out the assessment. After the survey, you will receive a completed ecology report within a few days.