Greenery Across Hampshire
A visually breathtaking part of the United Kingdom, Hampshire in the South East is a mostly green county. It is classed as 75% rural, but unlike many other predominantly natural areas, it hasn’t infringed on the number of residents, with its population of above 1.4 million people ranking as the second highest in the South East region – 300,000 of which live in the countryside.
In locations with as much countryside as Hampshire, it is only natural that developers will recognise an opportunity for development. Untouched patches of land are often more desirable than land with existing infrastructure or past intervention. As greenfield land could feature any variety of animals and plants, however, planning projects must integrate the necessary inspections before development works potentially disrupts ecological features on the site.
Catering to the potential for protected species is a common consideration in any development, affecting both land and property developments. For instance, reptiles and badgers could feature on an untouched plot of land, but it is just as likely for bats and barn owls to appear within an existing building. As a result of this, developers are advised to speak to an ecological consultancy about a high-level ecology survey, particularly as it will tick a selection of boxes in avoiding breaches of the law, prevent delays to the project, and assist the planning application process and the planning process as a whole.
Local Groups Dedicated to Wildlife Conservation
The necessary level of protection over listed animals and plants is only possible through the actions of groups throughout the county. First and foremost, Hampshire County Council has conservation and preservation groups, but with focused support from the Wildlife Trust for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, as well as individual groups for any local species with abundant populations.
An animal or plant’s unique behaviours matched with the climate of the chosen area dictate whether or not it will be a viable location to form a suitable habitat. Looking at Hampshire’s habitat suitability, known protected species in the county include bats, brown hares, dormice and great crested newts.
A handful of pieces of legislation cover the importance of protecting certain animal and plant species, how they should be safeguarded, and a list of the species that fall under the mandate. The two primary pieces of legislation are the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To ensure that they adhere to the rules of all relevant laws accordingly, developers are best intrusting in the insight and expertise of an ecologist with the necessary training, experience and knowledge.
On-Site Inspections for Ecology
An ecological assessment on a site or property will typically start with a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) / Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey. Then, if there are signs of protected species on the site or features that could act as a suitable habitat in the future, the ecological consultant will carry out further surveys to investigate the presence of rare or valuable wildlife and broaden the information for the local council.
A preliminary ecological appraisal is an opportunity for an ecological surveyor to look over the site for indications of listed animals and plants in the vicinity, both on the land itself and inside corresponding buildings. An ecology report created by the ecologist will then explain the outcomes from the assessment, mitigation measures that will enable the development to move forwards even with protected species present, and a list of required further surveys if any are needed.
The local planning authority is unlikely to consider an application for a planning condition before all necessary ecological surveys have been conducted. As such, if a listed animal or plant has been discovered, protected species will be needed, such as badger surveys, barn owl surveys, bat 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.
Our ecological surveys consist of a wide variety of different services, spanning from protected species surveys to extensive reports to help land management and landscape design from the perspective of the home-owner or managing director of the planning project. Even each assessment for protected species can include multiple steps, with a bat survey, for example, starting with a phase 1 preliminary roost assessment (PRA) to gauge the nature of the bat presence based on certain indicators such as bat droppings before moving on to a bat activity survey to gather further data regarding the bat occupancy. If the development work requires a protected species to be moved, we can even help with applications to Natural England for protected species licences.
Speak to Our Team About a Quote
After years of providing private and public sector clients with ecological surveys to support their developments and planning applications put forward to the local authorities, we are a trusted name in all ecological services. Each of our ecological consultants has the licensing, qualifications and experience to lead an ecological survey to support planning, whether that entails an extended phase 1 preliminary ecological appraisal, bat surveys, dormouse surveys, reptile surveys, great crested newt surveys, or assessments for water voles.
Alongside sufficient knowledge and accreditations, an understanding of the latest guidance from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and Natural England ensures that all of our staff are operating under the strictest guidelines. It can be difficult for developers to know where to start, so if you speak to our experienced team over the phone, via email or by filling out a form on our contact page, we can work out the most suitable solution for your project.
With sufficient information about your site and project, we will then be in a position to create a free quote for you, and if you are happy with it, let us know and we can work together to decide a date for the ecological surveys in question to take place. On the chosen date, one of our fully licensed ecologists will attend your site in Hampshire for an ecological survey, determine present priority habitats, look over potential ecological issues, and help you with securing planning permission from the local planning authorities.