Ecology Survey in Merseyside

Even predominantly urban areas such as Merseyside has rural areas that developers will utilise for development, and whenever this happens, ecology surveys are a consideration that may be needed to confirm the absence of wildlife or allow for an ecologist to mitigate for the presence.

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Natural Sections of Merseyside

Best known as the home to the city of Liverpool, Merseyside in the North West is unsurprisingly a predominantly urban county. Liverpool holds the largest percentage of any built-up area in the entire North West England region, and Merseyside as a county is only second to Greater Manchester. Other notable locations in Merseyside include Birkenhead, St Helens and Southport.

Although the county of Merseyside isn’t in an abundance of green areas, it does have patches of untouched land, including 5% of the green belt in Liverpool. As for any remaining plots of land that are brownfield or greenfield, it is likely that they will be extremely desirable to developers, partly due to the limited number of these spaces left, but also because of the natural benefits that come from staging a project on land with no existing infrastructure.

In any development work that involves a natural plot of land or existing property, protected species of animal or plant may be present. With protections in place, any harm coming to them will incur penalties and impact the planning project, and the person responsible will be the developer. Rather than running the risk of breaking the law, delaying your project and harming your planning application submitted to the local planning authority, it is advisable to arrange a high-standard ecology survey with a trusted consultancy.

Local Wildlife Protection

Protected species of animals and plants are safeguarded by a number of groups in each area. Looking specifically at Merseyside, rare and valuable species are protected by departments within each of the local councils across the county, as well as the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, and trusts and community groups that are dedicated to each present species.

Even with only minimal countryside, Merseyside is home to a selection of protected species, including barn owls, bats, ferrers, frogs, great crested newts, kingfishers, toads and water voles. It is also in relatively close proximity to notable rural locations such as Mid Wales. Many of these animals – along with a long list of plants that will also be present – are common all over the country, choosing an area to inhabit based on climate and their unique behaviours.

Details of legislation safeguarding certain animals and plants and a list of the species under protection are provided within the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It can be beneficial for developers to become better accustomed to both pieces of legislation, but due to the extensive nature of them and the unavoidable requirement for an ecological assessment, even the most comprehensive knowledge will not act as a sufficient substitute for an ecology survey on the site.

Process of Inspecting Ecological Features

Assuming there are no clear indications of animal or plant habitats present, the ecologist will carry out a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) / Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey to assess the site for evidence of protected species. During an inspection of the site or property, the presence or likely absence of wildlife can be confirmed, and if there are signs of valuable wildlife in the vicinity, the ecological consultant can begin to create mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate disturbance to them and other potential issues.

As well as gauging whether protected species are on the site, the ecological surveyor will look for features that could act as potential habitats in the future. With all of this information, an ecology report will be put together, featuring the ecologist’s findings, suggested next steps, advice in regards to further surveys and – if all requirements have been met – a recommendation to the local planning authority to grant the application for planning permission.

Any changes to the planning project identified over the course of the inspection or further ecology surveys needed on the site will need to be completed before the local authority will grant planning consent. Additional survey work that could be suggested based on observations in a preliminary ecological appraisal includes a full range of protected species surveys or habitat surveys such as badger surveys, barn owl surveys, bat surveys (preliminary roost assessment (PRA) and bat emergence survey (BERS)), 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.

It is possible for development projects to need any small or large number of ecological services. If a bat species or bat roosts were found on a development site, for example, a bat survey would be needed, starting with bat scoping surveys to determine the circumstances of the roosting bats before moving on to bat activity surveys to uncover more information and record bat calls. Both assessments on bats and breeding birds would be necessary for property developments and barn conversions, with some being time sensitive and only applicable during summer months.

Contact Our Expert Team

Following years of service satisfying the needs of private and professional clients up and down the country, we are suited with the required extensive experience and ties to Natural England and other relevant organisations to assist you in providing ecology surveys for the benefit of your planning project. Reach out to our team by calling us, sending us an email or visiting our contact us page, and we can then work with you to start the process.

In a simple phone call with our team, you will be able to give us details of your site and project, and using them, we will develop a free quote for you to consider. If you are happy to proceed, let us know and we can then work out a date for an ecologist educated to degree level and possessing the necessary licensing to attend your site for an ecological assessment, giving you all you need to meet the requirements of your local council for a successful application for planning permission.