Ecology Survey in Greater Manchester

Protected species of animals and plants are present all over the UK, including the primarily urban Greater Manchester area. As such, planning an ecology survey and other applicable ecology services prior to conducting development works can eliminate potential obstacles found later in the planning process.

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Manchester Rural and Urban Areas

With an urban population of 99%, it will come as no surprise to discover that Greater Manchester in the North West is a primarily developed county. It also has distinctly large populations within it, with Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale, Sale, Salford, Stockport and Wigan all housing more than 100,000 people, as well as the City of Manchester itself housing more than 560,000 people.

Between 2001 and 2021, the population of the entire county of Greater Manchester grew by more than 385,000. The City of Manchester has become a more in-demand location in recent times, leading to the need for fresh infrastructure to facilitate the growing population, new businesses and more job opportunities.

Remaining greenfield and brownfield sites in Greater Manchester are immensely desirable to developers, but acquisition isn’t the only challenge, as protected species of animals and plants can form habitats in both existing buildings and undeveloped patches of land. Simply ignoring the likelihood of animals and plants that are considered valuable or rare will cause issues later in the development process.

Before a local planning authority will even consider granting an application of planning consent, they will need to see evidence that an ecologist has undertaken an ecology survey on the site. A licensed expert can then confirm or deny the presence of protected animals and plants before providing next steps that will enable the planning project to move into future stages.

Protective Measures Over Local Wildlife

Community groups, organisations and local councils enforce protective measures for protected species of animals and plants. On a broad scale, all rare and valuable species are safeguarded by departments within the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside. More specific wildlife trusts also exist for certain animal species, particularly if there are significant numbers in the chosen area.

Animal and plant species are present in specific locations based on their unique habits and the local climate. Despite the majority of urban areas over rural areas, a selection of listed protected species are present in Greater Manchester, including badgers, barn owls, bats, great crested newts, kingfishers, little ringed plovers, peregrine falcons and water voles.

A vast selection of animal and plant species are listed as protected under certain pieces of legislation, namely the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. All developers are required to demonstrate adherence to any policies that could impact their planning project, with the desirable option of reaching out to an ecologist for insightful and impactful guidance.

Animal and Plant Surveying

Assuming there are no clear signs of animal or plant occupancy that would trigger a species-specific survey, the ecological consultant will start the process by carrying out a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) / Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey. Over the course of a thorough inspection of the development site, all ecological features will be recorded and it will be decided whether they could impact or be impacted by the plans of the development.

Not only will the ecological surveyor look for evidence of animals and plants inhabiting the site, but also potential for habitat suitability in the future. Findings from the assessment will then confirm or deny the occupancy of protected species, and with this information, the ecologist can create mitigation measures to allow the project to go ahead despite the presence of wildlife on the site or property, giving the local planning authority an outline of the changes needed to meet the criteria for planning permission.

The ecology report created after the assessment and provided to the local council will include all relevant data from the ecology survey, including information about the site or property, confirmation of whether animals or plants are present, and recommended next steps and further surveys that will mitigate for them if they are. Once all necessary changes have been made to accommodate any protected species in the vicinity, the ecological consultant will be able to provide assurances to the local authorities that the developer has fulfilled their requirements, prompting a planning condition.

In terms of further ecology surveys, if additional assessments are needed on the site or property after the ecologist has found evidence of a species that requires a comprehensive investigation, a more focused survey will be needed before the developer can ease the qualms of the local planning authority. For animals, protected species surveys may include badger surveys, barn owl surveys, bat surveys (preliminary roost assessment and bat emergence survey), dormouse surveys, great crested newt surveys, otter surveys, reptile surveys or water vole surveys, and for plants, further surveys may include giant hogweed surveys, Himalayan balsam surveys, injurious weed surveys or Japanese knotweed surveys.

Derived from skills in project management, environmental management and co-ordination with developers on undertaking an ecological survey to satisfy planning requirements and secure a planning application, our team offers a full range of ecology services. Alongside preliminary ecological appraisals and an ecological impact assessment for gauging the condition of a development site and protected species surveys for roosting bats such as preliminary roost assessments, we can help with mitigation licence applications to Natural England if one is needed to deal with protected species accordingly.

Start the Ecological Assessment Process

Skilled in providing ecological solutions and attending to the needs of professional and private clients accordingly, our ecology team has extensive experience in conducting ecology surveys to progress developments and meet planning requirements. Even if you aren’t sure of the ecology survey you need, get in touch and we can point you in the right direction.

Every professional that carries out our ecology services has ties to a full range of recognised organisations, such as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and Natural England. Between extensive experience in ecology and a vast understanding of the relationship between the features of an ecological survey and development project management, we are ideally suited to assist.

To begin the ecological assessment process, contact us and provide our team with the specifications of your site and project, and we can then produce a free quote for you to look over. As soon as you give us the green light, we can plan a desirable date to carry out the ecology survey, and following the assessment, you will receive the ecology report containing all you need to progress your project and secure planning permission.