Ecology Surveys in the South West

In any planning project, a multitude of issues can arise, leading to potential delays and additional costs. Spotting them early, however, is possible through ecology surveys conducted by a licensed ecologist. Speak to us today about booking an ecology survey on your South West development site.

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South West England Outdoor Areas

A region regarded as a hub of countryside areas, the South West of England has a large number of rural locations, as well as a coastal presence through residing beside where the Celtic Sea meets the English Channel. Looking specifically at each county within the region, rural areas account for 93.7% of Dorset, 92% of Cornwall, 82.6% of Devon, 48.2% of Somerset, 47.5% of Wiltshire, 42.3% of Gloucestershire, and 13% of Bristol.

Despite a recorded 44% decline in the population of farmland birds over a 30-year period, the South West remains strong as a home to a large percentage of the UK’s protected species, including nightjar birds and greater horseshoe bats. Even with the towns and villages of Bath, Bournemouth, Cheltenham, Exeter, Plymouth and Swindon, South West England is universally recognised as a rural part of the UK, and with such a large number of countryside locations, local councils are determined to retain as much ecological and environmental quality as possible.

Local authorities in the South West are required to enforce certain rules to guarantee that natural areas, protected animal species, trees and valuable plants are given the necessary safeguarding. Particularly applicable to planning projects, developers in the South West region would first need to satisfy laws that correspond to local biodiversity. Without consideration to South West ecology, the local planning authority would be unlikely to grant a planning application.

In order for a local authority to accept an application for planning permission, the developer would need to see evidence of an inspection on the site in the form of an ecology survey. Over the course of an assessment, an ecologist will analyse all areas of the site, determine the presence of any and all ecological features, provide suggestions that will minimise disturbance to ecological features, recommend other surveys, and create a report with all of the information needed to gain a planning condition.

Types of Protected Species in the South West

Certain pieces of legislation such as Schedule II of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and Section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 provide a list of all protected species in the United Kingdom.

Several of these animal species are present in South West England, with each of the species listed by county below:

Bristol

  • Hedgehogs
  • House sparrows
  • Otters
  • Water voles

Cornwall

  • Badgers
  • Barn owls
  • Bats
  • Dormice
  • Otters
  • Reptiles

Devon

  • Bats
  • Dormice
  • Great crested newts
  • Otters
  • Reptiles
  • Water voles
  • White-clawed crayfish

Dorset

  • Badgers
  • Barn owls
  • Bats
  • Dormice
  • Greater crested newts
  • Otters

Gloucestershire

  • Bats
  • Dormice
  • Great crested newts
  • Otters

Somerset

  • Bats
  • Dormice
  • Great crested newts
  • Otters

Wiltshire

  • Bats
  • Dormice
  • Great crested newts
  • Reptiles

Ecological Assessments on a Site

Chosen based on the requirements of the assessment, there are numerous forms of ecology survey. However, the common first step in the surveying process is a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA) / Phase 1 Habitat Survey. An ecological consultant will conduct a PEA survey by carrying out a desk study to retrieve any relevant information about the site before visiting the site and inspecting all ecological features present.

From their findings, the ecological surveyor can produce steps forwards for the developer that will mitigate any ecological issues on the site and enable the project to continue. Under certain circumstances, the ecologist may be led to believe that ecological assets such as protected animal species or invasive plant species are on the site, leading to the need for further surveys. In terms of protected species surveys, this could include badger surveys, barn owl surveys, bat surveys, dormouse surveys, great crested newt surveys, otter surveys, reptile surveys or water vole surveys, or giant hogweed surveys, Himalayan balsam surveys, injurious weed surveys or Japanese knotweed surveys for invasive plant species.

After any ecological surveys, the ecological consultant in charge of the assessment will assemble an ecology report detailing the survey at length and outlining the necessary mitigation measures to the developer and the planning officer of the local council. An ecology survey report will also be created following a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal, featuring all of the information needed to support an application for planning consent.

Advanced Ecologists

The ecological surveyors we work with are disciplined in multiple areas with a view to undertaking a selection of ecology assessments. It is only possible to achieve such a knowledge and understanding of ecological surveys through taking part in a wide variety of nature projects, earning qualifications in relevant subject areas, and picking up accreditations from corresponding responsible bodies within ecology.

Between bachelor’s / master’s degree level qualifications and experience of conducting all types of ecological assessments, each of our ecologists has the skills, expertise and insight to perform a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal, protected species survey, invasive species survey or any other type of ecology survey on your site.

Receive an Ecology Survey Quote

An ecology survey may be needed based on the instructions of a local planning authority or as the result of an earlier assessment that led to the requirement of further surveys on the site. Developers in either category would benefit from speaking to us via the telephone number above or by giving us details of your site and project using our online quote form. Our helpful team can then gauge your needs before providing you with a free quote that matches your specifications.

Once you have confirmed that you are happy for us to conduct the necessary assessments on your development site, we can work together to find a desirable date and time. One of our ecological consultants will then produce an ecology report within a few days of completing your survey, and with it, you can ease any concerns from your local council, bolstering your planning application.