Ecology Survey in Cumbria

A county known for seemingly endless green spaces, Cumbria is the ideal habitat for native wildlife. It is also a desirable location for developers looking to stage a planning project on greenfield land. For the two to work in unison, however, ecology surveys are needed or planning applications put forward to the local planning authority will be at risk.

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Nature Throughout Cumbria

Widely known as a predominantly rural county, Cumbria in the North West is home to the Lake District and countless mountains, lakes and expansive green spaces. Settlements across the county of Cumbria primarily consist of small towns and villages with minimal populations. The largest based on population include Carlisle, Barrow-in-Furness, Kendal, Whitehaven and Workington.

In an area as natural and authentic as Cumbria, undeveloped plots of land appear in abundance, leaving the landscape in its original condition and with a strong standard of biodiversity, but setting obstacles for developers intending on staging land and property planning projects. By law, developers are required to avoid harm to animal and plant habitats during any development, affecting works on greenfield and brownfield sites.

Whenever property or land developments with protected species of animals or plants present go ahead without prior assessments on the site, penalties will ensue, ranging from fines and prison sentences to a complete breakdown of the planning project. It is instead advised that planners organise an ecology survey on the site, establishing the presence or absence of priority habitats, meeting the needs of the local planning authority, and eliminating any factors that could otherwise disrupt the planning application.

Conservation, Preservation and Protection of Wildlife

A universal consideration throughout the country – listed protected species are safeguarded by groups formed by charities, communities and the local council to provide coverage to the corresponding area. In addition to Cumbria County Council and other local authorities within the county, the Cumbria Wildlife Trust offers conservation, preservation and protection to native animals and plants that are considered rare or valuable.

The climate of the given location and the behaviours of the animal and plant species dictate whether or not they are present in the nearby area. Due to the high standard of biodiversity in the county, many of the protected species of animal are present in Cumbria, including barn owls, bats, great crested newts, geese, hen harrier, natterjack toad, otters, red squirrels, swans and water voles.

Laws that protect a selection of rare or valuable plants and animals situated in England and Wales include the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is the duty of all developers to abide by relevant laws and ensure that they meet the requirements, as set by nationwide legislation and the planning policies of their local council – something far easier to do through utilising the expertise and insight of a qualified ecological consultant during an ecology survey.

Inspections on Flora and Fauna

Assuming there are no clear signs of animals or plants on the site or property, the ecologist will start the ecological assessment process by conducting a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) / Phase 1 Habitat Survey. A PEA will involve a thorough analysis of the site, with the ecological surveyor identifying any and all ecological features present before confirming or denying if they are likely to be affected by the development.

Following the ecology survey, it will be determined whether or not protected animals or plants are present and – even if they aren’t – the established suitability for using the property or site as a habitat in the future. An ecology report will be created to document all ecological surveys, featuring mitigation measures intended to reduce or eliminate harm to protected species, recommended next steps and further surveys, and advice to the local planning authority in regard to the decision to grant or deny an application for planning permission.

All necessary ecological surveys will need to be undertaken and a report provided to the local authorities before they will even consider granting planning applications. Depending on the outcome of the PEA, further surveys may include habitat surveys such as badger surveys, barn owl surveys, bat surveys, breeding bird surveys, dormouse surveys, great crested newt surveys, otter surveys, reptile surveys or water vole surveys for animals and giant hogweed surveys, Himalayan balsam surveys, injurious weed surveys or Japanese knotweed surveys for plants.

Take the First Step in Your Ecology Survey

Covering the entirety of the UK and offering ecological consultancy services to both private and professional clients, our team is populated by friendly and approachable experts on ecology and any factors that could hinder your application to the local planning authority for a planning condition. Each ecological surveyor within our ranks holds sufficient training, licensing and qualifications to undertake ecology surveys, as well as a hands-on and flexible approach that guarantees reliable results and an ecological survey carried out to the highest possible standard.

Before putting your development into potential danger, contact us, and even if you aren’t sure about the ecology survey you need, our helpful team will be able to take down notes about your project and provide you with the most suitable solution. We will then send across a free quote, and once you are happy, our ecological consultancy can choose a date for the ecology survey and begin to assist you with removing any obstacles in your planning project and support your application for planning permission.