Natural Value Found Across Berkshire
Due to the presence of such built-up areas as Reading, Slough, Bracknell and Maidenhead, the county of Berkshire in South East England is considered primarily urban. That said, parts of the county are much more rural. West Berkshire is particularly natural, with the sparse population leading an estimated 44% of the local inhabitants into occupying Newbury and Thatcham alone.
Regardless of whether an area is urban or rural, a developer will be faced with the same issues. For instance, an urban area may possess more restrictions over remaining natural assets whereas a rural area may hold stronger parameters to prevent unnecessary harm. Even in the case of brownfield land, it is possible for protected species of animals and plants to be present.
At any point that valuable or rare natural features appear on a development site, the planning project in question may be significantly impacted. It may be the case that potential protected species only pose a minor hindrance to the development plans, but even under these circumstances, an ecology survey would be an advisable next step to avoid issues with securing planning permission from the local authority.
Efforts to Protect Native Wildlife
Protection of listed species comes from a number of directions, including departments within the local council and the wider government, as well as charity organisations and regulators with defined aims and goals such as Natural England and the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT). Specifically in terms of wildlife, the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust oversees the safeguarding of native animals and plants.
Animal and plant behaviours and the climate will act as the two main factors that decide where each species chooses to inhabit. Records indicate that Berkshire has over 4.5 million species, with more than 1,050,000 classed as protected. Of all present species, the primary list includes adders, bats, great crested newts, hedgehogs, lapwings, otters and water voles.
A more comprehensive list that features all protected plants and animals can be found within the legislation that was originally designed to protect them, such as the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Navigating through the planning process with adherence to the parameters set by the law can be tricky, but developers are able to be successful by investing in the invaluable help of an ecological consultant.
Inspections on Development Sites
From a full range of available ecological surveys, we will choose the most suitable option based on the circumstances of the site and project. If it isn’t clear what ecology services are needed, the first step will be undertaking a preliminary ecological appraisal (PEA) / extended phase 1 habitat survey. Alternatively, an ecological impact assessment (EcIA) will be conducted, or if existing data collected from the site indicates the present species, ecological consultants could skip ahead to the required survey work such as a habitat survey or the creation of habitat management plans.
Over the course of a PEA, all assets from the site will be analysed at length, and if they overlap with the development, qualified ecologists will produce mitigation or compensation measures, or recommend other assessments. Whenever it has been possible to create sufficient next steps, an ecology report can be created to encourage the local planning authorities to approve planning consent. Alternatively, it is evident that more information is required, usually leading to further protected species surveys.
Additional ecology services for protected species could include anything from bat surveys or great crested newt surveys for animals to injurious weed surveys or Japanese knotweed surveys for plants. Considering the widespread populations of the barbastelle bat, Brandt’s bat, brown long-eared bat, common pipistrelle bat and whiskered bat, the bat survey is a common form of protected species survey for analysing roosting bats, bat roosts, bat droppings, prey remains and actions that could disturb bats via a preliminary roost assessment, and analysing bat species, bat calls, entry and exit points via bat activity surveys/bat emergence and re-entry surveys.
An ecology survey report will be created once all assessments have been executed, and within it, you will find everything needed to receive a successful planning application from the local planning authority. We can also help with other relevant matters, such as working in sensitive areas like listed buildings, suggesting a second survey if more information regarding the Berkshire development site is required, and helping with the European protected species licence application if it appears that European protected species licences are needed in order to move forward.
Speak to Our Ecology Team
Working with clients up and down the country, we’ve been able to plant an ecological surveyor in every county to ensure that developers are covered in any development. Recent projects have seen us conduct PEAs and EcIAs within the planning system, as well as provide a bat report following the bat survey process after a bat roost and both soprano pipistrelle bats and brown long-eared bats were found on a Berkshire site.
Our reputation means that our spaces fill up quickly, so if you need any ecological surveys for the summer months next year, for instance, it would be advisable to speak to our team as soon as possible. Email us, call us, or visit our website and fill out a quote form, and from there, we can send across a free quote, determine any potential impact on the natural environment, and offer the support you need to bolster planning applications put forward to your local authorities.