Ecology Surveys in Oxfordshire

Any developments on land or properties in the county of Oxfordshire will first need to undergo ecology surveys or face issues with the local council and the planning application process.

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Oxfordshire’s Authentic Locations

Containing a variety of towns and villages alongside seemingly endless countryside, Oxfordshire in South East England is a county with a relatively even mix of rural and urban features. That said, it is considered by many people as one of the most rural counties in the United Kingdom, with 40% of the population living in countryside areas.

In a primarily green county such as Oxfordshire, the opportunities for development are far greater. The cost of land and properties is often more expensive in the southern counties, and if the location in question is as aesthetically pleasing and abundant in greenfield land – or properties that could be altered or demolished to fit a new purpose – as Oxfordshire, it can be a highly competitive destination for planning.

Without adherence to laws surrounding protected species, the developer will be at risk of prosecution and the development will be in danger of total collapse if listed animals or plants are found. Developers can learn more about relevant legislation and evidence that could indicate protected species on their site or property, but even the utmost knowledge will not compensate for professional intervention from an ecologist in the form of an ecology survey, and ignoring the need for such an assessment will also affect the application for a planning condition.

Safeguarding Protected Species

As with all parts of the United Kingdom, animals and plants that are listed within certain pieces of legislation are given protections from several groups. As well as dedicated teams within Oxfordshire County Council, protected species will also be safeguarded by the Wildlife Trust for Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, and societies for named wildlife in the specific location.

Both animal and plant species will choose a habitat based on specific criteria, such as their own behaviours and the climate of the identified area. Although protected species that commonly appear throughout the country, listed animals with occupancy in Oxfordshire include badgers, bats, dormice, great crested newts, otters and water voles.

Multiple pieces of legislation safeguard protected species across the country, namely the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. For developers, it can be daunting to ensure that they are operating within the rules of corresponding laws accordingly, but with the help of an ecologist in an assessment on the site, the local planning authority should have everything they need to grant a planning application.

Surveying to Benefit Development

Whenever a site or property needs a comprehensive overview of potential ecological features in the vicinity, the ecologist will begin the process with a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) / Phase 1 Habitat Survey. The main aim of a PEA is to inspect the property or site for evidence of protected species or any indications that they could form habitats nearby in the future based on present features, such as suitable loft spaces or trees.

Immediately after the assessment, results from the survey will be detailed in an ecology report, including the ecological surveyor’s findings, mitigation measures to allow the project to move forwards with consideration to present wildlife, any required further surveys and – if all targets have been met – approval to the local planning authority to support a planning application.

If it is the case that additional surveys are needed after certain protected species were identified, they will need to be completed before the local planning authority will consider granting planning permission. In terms of protected plants, assessments could include giant hogweed surveys, Himalayan balsam surveys, injurious weed surveys or Japanese knotweed surveys, and for animals, assessments could include badger surveys, barn owl surveys, bat surveys, dormouse surveys, great crested newt surveys, otter surveys, reptile surveys or water vole surveys.

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We have undertaken a wide range of ecology surveys for years, growing our capabilities, experience and effectiveness as we’ve grown our client base. Our helpful team will also help any private or professional clients that aren’t sure what ecological assessments they need. All you need to do is get in touch and we can assist you based on your circumstances.

Unlike other ecological consultancies, we hold no obligation over our clients, offering a free quote to give you an opportunity to mull over your options. After this point, we can determine a desirable time to carry out the ecology survey, send one of our team to your site on the chosen date, and help you to meet your local authority’s planning specifications and secure a planning condition for your site.