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 to benefit an array of development projects. Over the course of this period, we have undertaken ecology surveys across the length and breadth of the UK, built on our experience as an expert environmental consultancy, and worked with countless local planning authorities to gain planning permission on land developments.
Between our wealth of knowledge, vast experience in ecology and a proven ability to offer a wide range of ecology surveys to meet specific needs and guarantee quality services provided to our clients, we work to ensure that your proposed development goes ahead and your planning permission application is successful.
Our Expert Ecologists
Our project team boasts a mix of directly employed ecological surveyors and dependable subcontractors, all with the same standards and capabilities to analyse ecological features and concerns appropriately, and assist in the planning process. Through solid, established working relationships, our subcontractors offer us favourable timescales and competitive rates to pledge that you are booked in at the quickest possible opportunity, avoid costly delays, and provide you with a quote that is justified and manageable.
All of our ecological consultants at head office and situated across the UK have the relevant skills, qualifications and licences to undertake quality ecological surveys. An essential part of our recruitment process is making sure our project team is full of friendly and approachable professionals that are clear with communicating potentially vital information. As such, everyone in our ecological consultancy team – from administrational staff at head office to the ecological consultants conducting a site visit – has an equal balance of personability and professionality.
Ecological Survey and Assessment
Before booking an ecological assessment, you may be interested to learn more about how they work. Below, we offer further information on several key factors including the best time to book ecology surveys, what a survey involves, the equipment we use, the cost, and the guidelines we operate within:
Ecology Survey Calendar
A major factor in choosing the most suitable opportunity for your ecological survey will be the time of year, with summer months often far more suitable for ecology surveys than winter months. 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, as well as the specific habitats and behaviours of the particular species of animals involved.
Depending on the specific habitats and species, it may or may not be a more sensitive factor when it comes to ecological surveys that involve individual animals such as the various forms of European protected species surveys. For instance, Phase 1 Preliminary Roost Assessments (PRAs) for bats, Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) surveys for great crested newts, otter surveys and red squirrel surveys can be undertaken at any point in the year. However, protected species surveys for badgers, birds, dormice and reptiles are more effective in certain seasons, as are Emergence and Re-Entry Surveys for bats – the second phase in the bat ecology survey process.
Objectives of an Ecological Survey
During ecological surveys, the ecologist’s primary objective is to highlight any hinderances to the land development caused by local habitats and European protected species. Alongside this duty, they will also use the ecology survey to fulfil binding environmental targets, such as to assess the nature conservation value of the site, determine the ecological and environmental impact the development could have on biodiversity in the area, and if necessary, advise on further surveys that will be needed before a planning application would realistically be considered by the local planning authority.
The results of ecological assessments will then be used to prove to the corresponding local planning authorities that the development project can go ahead despite the presence of protected species or valuable plants, create ecological mitigation measures to counteract any significant ecological constraints, and develop methods of enhancing biodiversity on the proposed development site.
Ecological Survey Methods
As there are different types of ecology surveys, the process can be carried out in a number of ways. However, the first step – or initial survey – in the site assessment process is often a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA).
When conducting a PEA, the ecological consultant will typically 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 ecologist will physically visit the site for a field study.
- While at the site, the ecologist will record notable species of plants and protected habitats and animal species in the area, as well as the likelihood of any that aren’t currently visible.
- After the second part of the survey, the ecologist will assemble an ecological report for the attention of the local authorities that will include the ecological issues they have identified and appropriate mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate them.
Ecological Survey Equipment
In any ecological surveys, the ecology consultant will need to use specific types of equipment. Although different items may be required for certain surveys, there are many items that are universal for all ecology 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 ecology surveys, 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 project, and provide effective ecological mitigation measures.
What is an Ecology Report?
An ecology survey report is an extensive overview of ecology surveys 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, the appearance and content of an ecology survey report 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 ecological 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 granting a planning condition for the developer could support an increase to biodiversity.
Ecological Survey Cost
The cost of ecology surveys will be based on a variety of factors including the size of the plot of land, the scale of the project, and the ecologist’s travel costs. The necessary surveys you will need from the wide range of ecology surveys will also dictate the price.
How much do ecology surveys cost?
While a variety of factors will impact the price of the survey work you require, many of our ecology surveys possess a baseline cost to help our clients to budget for it as part of their development plans.
Ecological Survey Prices:
Preliminary Ecological Appraisal – starting at £599
Ecological Impact Assessment – starting at £799
Habitat Regulations Assessment – case specific
Ecological Walkover Survey – starting at £399
BREEAM Assessments – case specific
For a more accurate quote or information on any of our ecological surveys, it would be advisable to get in touch with our team. Simply call us or get a quick quote using the phone number or quote form at the top of this page.
Ecology Survey Guidelines
In order for surveys to be carried out correctly, they must be within UK legislation and compliant under the rules put in place by the appropriate regulators, including Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
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
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.
Guidelines for a Habitat Regulations Assessment
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 support protected species of animal and rare plants. However, as the UK is no longer part of the EU following Brexit, this directive doesn’t strictly apply, and instead, protected habits and species fall under UK Habitats Regulations, who enforce the rules of the EU Habitats Directive in the UK.
Booking an Ecology Survey
Whether you have been told that you need to book an ecology survey as part of your planning application to a local planning authority or you simply want a quote for a prospective development project, you will be relieved to learn that the process is quick and easy.
All you need to do is call us or 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 site you want us to assess and the type of survey you require. If you are unsure of the necessary survey you need, explain your situation and one of our helpful team will be able to make effective recommendations.
Once you have sent across your details, a member of our team will be in touch within a few hours to give you a no-obligation quote that is relevant to your site and project, advising on the necessary ecology surveys or any further surveys that will benefit your land development and planning application. You can then ask any questions you may have and secure your booking.
After the booking is confirmed, one of our qualified ecology consultants 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 need to carry out the assessment. After the survey, you will receive a completed ecology report within a few days, and you will be able to submit this to your local planning authority to enhance your application for planning permission.