The Stunning Dorset Landscape
Highly regarded as a hub for the vast countryside with a strong sense of biodiversity, Dorset in the South West is predominantly rural, to such an extent that only 6.3% of the county is classed as urban. Rather than large cities with heaving populations, the county of Dorset offers a scattering of towns and villages, with even the largest holding a population just short of 60,000.
Considering the sheer amount of authentic natural areas across Dorset, it is easy to see why developers could perceive it as an ideal place for development. Based on that and the stunning scenery throughout the county, the cost of new land and existing housing has understandably grown. Even greenfield land has its hindrances though, with protected species of animals and plants likely to use untouched patches of land as suitable habitats.
Animals and plants that are considered rare, valuable or invasive can occupy a wide range of settings, meaning they can play a role in affecting both property and land development projects. Developers are pitted with the responsibility of arranging the necessary inspections of the natural environment prior to any development works, and without them, they will be putting themselves at risk of prosecution and their planning project at risk of complete breakdown. As such, it would be advisable for all developers to reach out to an ecological consultancy for an ecology survey before breaking the law and putting their chances of a successful planning application to the local authorities in danger.
Ensuring Protection Over Local Wildlife
Animals and plants throughout Dorset that are considered valuable or rare are given protection by multiple groups, including departments managed by Dorset Council and the Dorset Wildlife Trust. In addition, societies run by communities, regulators and local councils are assembled with the intention of offering protection to specific animals in the area.
The two deciding factors for habitat suitability across an area are the climate and the behaviours of the animal or plant in question. Protected animals with known occupancy in Dorset include badgers, barn owls, bats, dormice, greater crested newts and otters.
Under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, a selection of outlined animals and plants are protected from activities and practices that could cause them harm or disruption. Operating within these laws is vital, and while it is a big ask for developers to do so without guidance, investing in the support of an ecological surveyor will make all the difference and give the local planning authority evidence from a trusted source.
Surveying Animals and Plants
Once it has been established that protected species are present on a site or property, the developer can speak with us about arranging the necessary survey. If it isn’t certain that any listed animals or plants are in the vicinity, however, the natural step to take would be to arrange a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) / Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey. Designed as the first stage in the ecology survey process, the PEA will see an ecological consultant evaluating the site or property for any and all ecological features before gauging if they are likely to obstruct the project or suffer as a result of it.
Between evidence of wildlife on the site or property and factors that could indicate habitat suitability, the ecologist can work out if the development will be impacted by protected species, now or in the future. From their findings, they will formulate an ecology report including details of the inspection, confirmation of the absence or presence of wildlife, mitigation strategies and mitigation measures for addressing valuable or invasive species accordingly, applicable further surveys, and either a recommendation for the local planning authorities to grant planning consent or a list of steps that will contribute to a viable application.
All required ecological assessments will need to be completed before an application for a planning condition will be taken seriously by the local planning authority. Additional ecology surveys determined by the identification of protected wildlife could include protected species surveys or habitat surveys in the form of giant hogweed surveys, Himalayan balsam surveys, injurious weed surveys or Japanese knotweed surveys for plants, and badger surveys, barn owl surveys, bat surveys (bat scoping surveys and bat activity surveys), dormouse surveys, great crested newt surveys, otter surveys, reptile surveys or water vole surveys for animals.
While our experienced ecologists are proficient in various protected species surveys for great crested newts and water voles, for example, we offer other ecological surveys in order to serve mitigation strategies as part of applications for planning permission and satisfy crucial survey requirements. Each of our team follows the guidelines as set by the Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), enabling us to carry out preliminary ecological appraisals (PEAs) and a multitude of other assessments.
Come to Us For a Quote
Through working with the best in the business, our team is packed full of experience, insight and expertise, all for the benefit of developers that need ecology surveys and other ecological services to inform their projects and the broader planning process. Whether you are a private or professional client, we welcome your inquiry. Start by reaching out to us via email or over the phone, or by filling out a form on our contact us page.
One of our team will then reach out to you to discuss the details of your site and project, and assuming you are happy to proceed, we can then set a date to visit you for the necessary ecological surveys. Afterwards, you will receive a completed ecology report, and with it, you can demonstrate to your local council that the necessary inspections have been undertaken, simplifying their decision on whether or not to allow a developer to obtain planning permission.